Recentering the Image-Making Process
CAD Collective Learning Program Application 2024


Photojournalism’s traditional models, which require little to no basic human interaction, overshadow photography’s natural inclinations to co-produce the news with the public–especially when tasked to address questions related to race, gender, colonialism, and community safety.  

In a 2022 study titled “The State of Photography”, 93 percent of photographers surveyed across 87 countries believe “collaboration” with residents is “not a photojournalistic priority,” according to Knights Foundation and Catchlight io. 

A change is needed. 

Photography helps us understand everything that is hardest to contemplate about our society. At Chicago Art Department, we focus on the process and invite you to participate in the third Collective Learning Program. Together, we will develop strategies by asking: How can we ensure that our efforts are sincere, effective, and not exploitative? What critical response does photography offer the public amid growing misinformation, tensions, and state suppression of information? What are the limitations of community-driven journalism, and how do we use photography to work beyond them?

By reflecting on these questions, we can better coach photography’s approach, improve our ability to refute false claims using images and safeguard public integrity. 


Recentering the Image-Making Process
is the third iteration of Chicago Art Department’s paid and in-person Collective Learning Programs—a skill share learning initiative. This program will take place in the winter of 2024 and will be led by Sebastián Hidalgo, a photojournalist trained in Chicago and a current resident at CAD.

We see the current media discord as an opportunity to ask deeper questions and strategize appropriate steps forward.

We’re searching for passionate individuals to join a learning circle where we collectively identify issues impacting our communities, frame solutions, assess the appropriate steps, identify resources, mobilize photography, and engage in skill-sharing through catalytic partnerships.

Participants will collaborate to craft a publication, curate a photography exhibition or workshop in our main space in 2024, and/or any other form of shared communication to present their research to the public.

Photographers, editors, journalists, community organizers, ethnographers, and harm-reduction practitioners are strongly encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to individuals working in and representing backgrounds that are misrepresented and poorly represented in the media.

Six participants will receive an $850 honorarium for their participation and work preparation towards the exhibition. Meetings will take place on Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. from January 20th, 2024 to March 9th, 2024. The culminating exhibition will open March 16th and run through April 26th. The submission deadline will be December 31st, at 11:59 pm (Central Time). Only applicants who can commit to all the meeting dates above will be considered for this opportunity. 

Light refreshments will be provided at all meetings. For any space accommodations, please contact

A selection committee will review and notify selected applicants by January 12th, 2023.

Applicant Qualifications:

•Are passionate about using photography to expand beyond traditional narrative formats and tap into the medium’s potential for accountability and public safety 

•Can demonstrate a broad knowledge of the current media landscape  

•Strong grasp or understanding of photojournalistic principles, including ethics 

•Ability to show photography techniques or are interested in utilizing photography in their workx. You don’t have to be a photographer

Please write responses clearly and to the best of your ability. For questions about the application, please email


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