Mike Davis Spearheads International “Family. Life.” Project

Mike Davis has tested the idea of assignments based on family at Syracuse, to see the range of what students came up with. Taylor Baucom's story a 16-year-old girl who rebuilds her life after being left with quadriplegia after a car accident is one example of the exceptional work that can result from this theme. Taylor's story was featured on Time Magazine's Lightbox.

Mike Davis has tested the idea of assignments based on family at Syracuse, to see the range of what students came up with. Taylor Baucom’s story about a 16-year-old girl who rebuilds her life after being left with quadriplegia is one example of the exceptional work that can result from this theme. Taylor’s story was featured on Time Magazine’s Lightbox.

Mike Davis, The Alexia Tsairis Chair of Documentary Photojournalism at Syracuse University, has created and is leading the international “Family. Life.” project. “Family. Life.” invites universities around the world to produce a project about family. Each school determines the scale and scope of their contribution, as well as the amount of time that will be spent on it. Still photography and video projects are encouraged, as well as art, documentary and journalistic approaches.

“Family is the core of every aspect of life on the planet. It’s a universal theme, but also one with great variability,” says Mike. “Through the prism of family, you can see what distinguishes us and what unifies us.”

Through the prism of family, you can see what distinguishes us and what unifies us.

Already more than 100 universities around the world have been invited to participate in the project. Some of the schools who plan to participate are Syracuse, UNC-Chapel Hill, Western Kentucky, Columbia, Missouri and Ohio. Internationally, there will be universities from Armenia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, England and South Africa, among many others.

The idea behind “Family. Life.” was to create an international community of educators and student photographers, connecting people who wouldn’t otherwise be connected. Being able to see what one’s peers have created with the same parameters will be an enriching experience. Additionally, the project itself will be an incredible work, looking at family life in a way or scale that’s never been attempted before.

“There are many contests, but so few opportunities for us to work together towards a common goal. Great things can happen when we we bring so many minds together,” says Mike.

A website and a ebook will be developed for “Family. Life.” by a team of talented Syracuse University Newhouse School students. Mike is excited about other works and applications this project may create.

Already participating schools are coming to him with ideas of how to develop the project and forge connections within the community, such as the creation of an Adobe Gathering Room for universities, students and professors to talk about what they are contributing. Undoubtably, more great ideas will emerge from this worldwide collaboration.

PhotoShelter, PDN and ASMP have signed on to sponsor this project, with other partners and sponsors coming along as it develops. It is an exciting endeavor and we’re eager to watch as it develops.

The deadline for the completion of university projects is early December. Professors interested in participating should contact Mike Davis (mdavis@syr.edu) or Andrea Wise (alwise@syr.edu) for more information.

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