VAST Activities: Photo-Voice

by Zan Schmidt and Claire Casstevens

Scholars posing with their work!

The name ‘Photo-Voice’ refers to developing a narrative and creative voice through photography. In order to do this, VAST mentors teach students photography skills so they can then go out and use the camera as a new lens to interpret their own experiences and world around them.

History of Photo-Voice:

Photo-Voice is a VAST Activities Program run by talented and passionate members of Phocus, Vassar’s student photography organization. Originally created as a community engagement thesis project by Jennie Msall , Photo-Voice was adopted by Phocus when two of Photo-Voice’s founding members, Zan Schmidt and Claire Casstevens, became co-presidents of Phocus in January 2011. Incorporating Photo-Voice formally into a Vassar organization was an important step for the program because it now has continued support and interest from Vassar students and the community.


Photo-Voice mentors meet with students every Friday to learn about all aspects of photography—from its history and prominent figures to the intricacies of using film SLR cameras and capturing a thoughtful image. We hope photography will help students develop new and interesting perspectives on their everyday environments and communities.

A mentor and scholar pair discussing his photos

Students learn new skills in technical workshops, capture their own images during field trips, and constructively critique each other’s photographs. Additionally, each week has a topical focus, such as nature and landscape, portraiture, lighting, abstract, photojournalism, movement/action and documentary. Ultimately, each student will create a photography album journal to display and reflect upon their photographs and progress from the semester.

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One Comment to "VAST Activities: Photo-Voice"

  1. […] five underclassmen reflect on Photo-Voice, continuing our series on this exciting VAST […]

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