International Center for Photography
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International Center of Photography: A World of Experience
Ringling College formed a strategic affiliation with the International Center
of Photography (ICP) in 2009. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. For the first time, selected photography and digital imaging majors from Ringling could participate in ICP’s one-year certificate program. Students at only four other colleges in the United States share this honor. It’s a highly selective residency for an unparalleled school.
Founded by Magnum photographer Cornell Capa in 1974, ICP is a nerve center of photographic excellence. Along with its photography school, the ICP complex, located in Manhattan, includes state-of-of-the-art film, digital and video facilities, a research center (with some 150,000 original photographs), a library (of some 20,000 books on or about photography), and a museum and exhibition galleries. The school offers a range of educational programs, each with an excellent track record. Its one-year certificate program is one of many success stories.
ICP’s director of education, Phil Block, has helped shape the school’s
evolution since he came to ICP in 1982; he’s also ICP’s deputy director
for programs. Before that, Block was the founder and director of Light
Work, a highly acclaimed artist-in-residency program, artist space and
photographic facility at Syracuse University, which embraced photographic
artists as divergent as Cindy Sherman, W. Eugene Smith, Roy
de Carava and others.
According to Block, a year-long study opportunity at ICP will provide
multiple benefits for years to come. He cites several, starting with location.
“We’re in the heart of New York City—a vibrant epicenter of arts,
communications and mass media. It’s all here and our students are
immersed in it.” He adds, “Delaying gratification is the hard part. Our
students could be part of the NYC arts and culture scene 24/7. But
they don’t have that luxury. To master their craft and develop the full
power of their vision, they need to make careful choices in how they
invest their time. If they are passionate and perseverant, patient and
persistent, and if they give themselves to their work, they’ll be up there
on the arts stage in the future.”
The main benefit is the school itself, naturally. Professional mastery is
the goal behind all of ICP’s programs. According to Block, the curriculum
is intense—and that’s putting mildly. “Boot camp is probably easier,” he
laughs. The school offers two one-year certificate programs, each with
its own focus.
General Studies embraces the gamut of modern photography,
including fine art, editorial, fashion, documentary, and experimental
image production. Guided by critiques from faculty and visiting artists,
students fine-tune their technique and self-expression. They ground
their work in photography’s history and theory.
Reflecting the heritage of ICP founder Cornell Capa and his brother
Robert Capa, Documentary Photography and Photojournalism
examines the power of visual journalism, and helps students make
sense of this rapidly mutating field. They subject their own work to
unsparing critiques from faculty and leading photojournalists.
“Broadly speaking, one program focuses on art, the other on picture
journalism, telling stories about the world in which we live.” Block
says. “In either case, the goal is the same. We take young, enthusiastic
photographers and, at the end of nine months, help them discover their
place within the medium and establish a road map for the long journey
that lies ahead. Our students emerge with a strong command of photographic
practice today and a commitment to producing work that will make a difference.”
It’s a personal transformation. It’s hard work. It also might be the
most exciting opportunity these students will have in their lives.
ICP hosts approximately 110 students each year. “Matriculation” doesn’t
imply “dorms.” That’s not part of the package—for any ICP student. “Each
ICP student is just like any other emerging artist in Manhattan,” Block
says. “Finding your own place and living independently is part of
Dorms aside, studying in a photographic nerve center has its compensations,
including mentorship from leading photographers, and being given access to ICP’s studios, editing stations and digital and analog gear.