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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Seeing Through Photographs by The Museum of Modern Art

4,320 ratings

About the Course

Taking, sharing, and viewing photographs has become second nature for many of us. This course aims to address the gap between seeing and truly understanding photographs by introducing a diversity of ideas, approaches, and technologies that inform their making. You’ll explore the meaning of pictures and reconsider photography’s role in our visual culture. Look closely at 100 photographs from MoMA’s collection, going behind the scenes of the Museum and into artists’ studios through videos and audio interviews. Gain new perspectives on the ways photography has been used throughout the medium’s history: as a means of artistic expression, a tool for science and exploration, an instrument of documentation, a way to tell stories and record histories, and a mode of communication and critique....

Top reviews


Mar 8, 2016

Seeing Through Photographs has given me a whole new way of looking at my own and other peoples' work. So many aspects, details and points of view, the world of photography now seems even more amazing.


Dec 25, 2019

This is a really great way to get a beginners academic insight into photography, really interesting video and written content. I learned a lot and enjoyed studying again, thank you MoMA and Coursera!

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1 - 25 of 1,113 Reviews for Seeing Through Photographs

By Usama B Y

May 26, 2019

It was well organized course and learned essential principles to interpret photos. Thanks Coursera, MoMA and other sponsors for such an opportunity and platform for learning exploration. With Love!

By Yannis L

Mar 5, 2018

This has been an excellent Course by MoMA on the Art and the medium of Photography! Mind you, it does not provide you with any technical skills or techniques at all. However, it handholds you through photography, from its inception up until the current era. During this process, it provides you with short yet excellent crafted excerpts from several photographers and their body of work, through brief subtitled videos. Within seven Modules, the course explains in depth the meaning of photography, the importance of context, and how you should learn to "read" photos, not only as a passive spectator but more actively. During the course you will learn to appreciate photography not only in terms of light, composition or the synthesis and the subject, but by also considering the background of the creator, his/ her prejudices, the era when each photo was taken, the social context that led to the capture of each distinct photo etc. The course also successfully criticizes the use of photography, helping you identify what is the ambivalent meaning of each photo and how it is frequently manipulated by the media. To make things better, the Course encompasses rich online reading material (some directly from the MoMA library) and also several informative slideshows. In brief, this a magnificent, well-designed Course if you are passionate about understanding photography. It will provide you with a restart point towards photography and it will create an immense appetite to delve again into photography and to try to understand it, this time by having a richer background. All from the comfort of your home, through self-paced yet timed Modules' sessions. An excellent course! Kudos to MoMA and Sarah Meister for crafting it.

By Vincent A D C

Aug 21, 2016

I did enjoy these 6 weeks. I found the course very informative.

There are a lot of rich content , text, images, video that make the class the more interesting.

I really recommend this course.

By Alice D

Dec 26, 2019

This is a really great way to get a beginners academic insight into photography, really interesting video and written content. I learned a lot and enjoyed studying again, thank you MoMA and Coursera!

By Nika P

Mar 27, 2016

I was a student of Art History and I graduated with a theme focusing on Documentary Photography and Photojournalism, therefore I have read many books about photography and I thought I knew a lot about it. But this course showed me new perspectives and ideas, presented new photographers I have not yet know, and gave me new motivation to work in the field of photography. I also appreciated so much that there were scans of books and articles for us to read in combination with images and video - I think the mix of all three is a perfect way to study and should be also practised at Faculties (and from my experience, it is not always like that). Great work, I was really lucky and honoured to be part of the course.

By Alexis Q

Mar 9, 2016

Seeing Through Photographs has given me a whole new way of looking at my own and other peoples' work. So many aspects, details and points of view, the world of photography now seems even more amazing.

By Emmanuel N Q E

Jun 3, 2019

It was very insightful, and a good thing is they offered quizzes and other full content, which some other free courses do not, which really helps learning. Hope to go for other courses under them. :)

By David D

Jan 27, 2017

This was my first course done through Coursera. The MOMA resources were great and I found the course really well curated allowing me to develop my understanding of photography that much better. The modules moved me from one interesting aspect to another. Reading resources were excellent as well as all the other clips embedded in the program. Opportunity to provide and receive feedback was good and the online platform worked really well.

By Garry R

Jun 3, 2016

I would have, if possible, not rated this course. I was not interested in the work of the more recent photographers/photo manipulators. This is a course for the art crowd, not for those interested in the history of photography.

By EdusoundsNg

Mar 11, 2016

The course was educative and highly engaging. The short video clips with the quiz questions at the end of each module helped me to further understand the topic of discussion.

Furthermore, the submission at the end of the course and review of colleagues work added to my better understanding of the course, as I was able to share in the understanding of my other coursemates.

I hope MOMA will come up with independent courses that will treat each of the six modules as a separate course.

By Thaneshwary k

May 29, 2020

Coursera gives me a platform to explore new skills. I was able to experience education from world-renowned universities without losing out on career opportunities.

- Thaneshwary kirupanantharasa -

By mat

May 10, 2020

I think in this course there are some cues or starting point but everything is represented in a superficial way. The course is based only in material from MOMA but, for me, this is not a problem. The real missing thing is the absence of a more deep dissertation about topics. Tests at the end of each week are focused on insignificant details, like quotations, and can be passed queuing google

By Felipe S C

May 20, 2016

No actual class, just for selling books.

By Chean K

Oct 30, 2019

It was a pleasure and valuable learning experience to study this excellent, very well presented Coursera course, and it felt a privilege also to have the course led by such a world-renowned respected organisation as MOMA! I liked the structure of the course, with its good balance of written material, excellent video lessons, and assessment exercises. The list of reading material for each week was highly relevant to that week's theme - with the required reading providing a sound basis for understanding photographic ideas, theory as well as practice, and also provided a direction for further investigation. I really appreciated the videos where we get to hear photographers talk about their works, which gave insight into the photographers' mindset and what they were trying to show through their work. As well as all that, I enjoyed seeing the large range of photographs that was presented as part of the learning. These covered works by accomplished, talented, acclaimed, and some historically important photographers - and for me, this was the icing on he cake! Thank you Coursera and MOMA for this wonderful course!

By Alina T

Jun 25, 2016

Seeing Through Photographs by MoMa is an extremely well organised course. Sarah Meister from the Department of Photography has done a fabulous job of curating this course. The modules of the course follow a chronological process which is easy to understand. As a person who has just finished the entire course, I would have to recommend it to fellow photographers who are looking for a way to be involved in the various discussions regarding photography in the art world. It encourages you to grapple with some of the questions raised and challenges you to be consistent. It is a great course for anyone interested in the history of photography and evolving contemporary practices in the field. What strikes me the most is that it is not an outdated lesson in history but ties up the course together by making it relevant to our time and age. Overall a great course by MoMA and I had an amazing time learning.

By Beata W

Apr 2, 2018

The course presents many important topics in a very attractive and engaging way. The course changed my perception of photography very much. Many of my photographs stopped to please me .. I also appreciated a few previously rejected .. I got to know some of the works of many great artists and intend to deepen the knowledge about these artists. The most valuable value that I personally drew from the course is the enlargement of the frame .. thinking about how important is everything that is what is important and what so far I neglected and disregarded in the frame. How to change the focal length from 100mm to 35mm Participation in this course has put a lot of new questions ahead of me ... and gave me inspiration to look for answers at the end of the course. Thank you for preparing this wonderful course.

By Valeria B G

Apr 10, 2016

Bastante bien todo, tuve algunos problemas as y nadie los podía resolver al ser online pero después pude seguir adelante y logran con éxito los objetivos. Sugiero que sea realmente en castellano cua do a uno lo dejan optar x su idioma. Ya que aparentemente quiere ser un curso internacional y al alcance de todos al poder ser gratuito. Uno si o si debe tener un altísimo entendimiento de inglés para finalizarlo, o mayor tiempo para hacerlo de igual modo con tanta información. El material es de primerísima calidad y los felicito por eso! Espero sigan mejorando y hacer más cursos con ustedes ya que son realmente desafiantes! Muy interesante todo el curso y las obras de artes que facilitan junto al material de aprendizaje!!!!! Muchas gracias!

By Olivia P

May 5, 2020

This course is a magnificent introduction to the various modes of seeing photography - it offers an expansion on just seeing the subject matter of a photograph by bringing into focus different strategies and techniques which could alter the visual discourse within an image altogether. It also offers a great introduction to a few contemporary names (photographers which have been exhibited within MoMa). All in all, it gives the learner a great stepping stone into becoming more comfortable with their knowledge of photography as a medium , their ability to consume and understand the photographic output they are being exposed to on a daily basis and their ability to speak about them with confidence.

By Gerhard C

Jun 26, 2017

This course exposes you to a variety of approaches to creating and viewing photograph-based art. The student is responsible for integrating the material in a personal way, and can always do more than the minimum required. Instructions are clear, references are plentiful, and the quiz items are mostly straight-forward, on two or three occasions a bit too esoteric. Keeps you on your toes, though, and you can repeat the quizzes. Overall, a very valuable experience, to experience these topics from the perspective of a first-rate museum!

By Chris H

Aug 16, 2016

Excellent course! One of the best I have ever taken on photography. It opens up a large variety of topics and plots them along the evolution of photography from its very beginning to today. All of the content was hugely interesting, the materials and required readings were well-chosen and, most important of all, the course opened my eyes to many new possibilities of creative expression. This course is a must for anyone seriously interested in the subject of photography.

By Deleted A

May 30, 2016

If what you want is the sort of doctrinaire overview of fine-art photography that you might have learned in a university in the 1970s, this is exactly the course for you!

It's thoroughly saturated with the Museum of Modern Art mindset: the assumptions and interpretations are those touted by MoMA curators, and the photographers are chosen from the MoMA-approved pantheon. (The quiz questions tend to focus on course-content minutiae -- "Which commentator said X about Y?" -- to make sure you've drunk your art-establishment Kool-Aid.)

On the other hand, if you want to examine the diversity of photography through a variety of critical approaches -- Marxist, feminist, queer-theory, post-structural, whatever -- well, they don't allow none of that there here. This is strictly the Photography Gospel According to MoMA, and you either like it or lump it.

By Deborah A H

Nov 12, 2018

Seeing Through Photographs was such a wonderfully complete and inspiring course. The design and content provided a straight forward yet challenging set of well documented resources to learn absolutely everything about the history, development and current components of photography, primarily American.

I absolutely gained so much from the manner of presentation. The details concerning the exhibitions and literature produced by Department of Photography Museum of Modern Art as well as access to its resources was phenomenal. I loved the component breakdowns.

I cannot believe how much I did not know as I have been photographing for over 20 years. The course filled in so many blanks in my mind in terms of history, focus and expansion of the full use of this most valuable tool to see the world. Thank you all for your hard work in creating such an awesome course.

By Giulia R

Oct 5, 2017

Very interesting, intensive course about the history of American photography and its pioneers, the captivating details about the creative processes and the impact of the medium on the mass and art culture. Interviews, led by curator Sarah Meister, were very appealing, thorough and well-finished. I enjoyed getting to know the stories behind iconic pieces and the artistic lives of international photographers, it spurred my own creativity. Readings were also a relevant support in overcoming the tests at the end of every module and writing the final essay for the completion of the course. Fair grading given by the instructor and other partecipants.

By Anabel S d G

Jul 23, 2017

Amazing course! Enjoyable from the first day. Sara Meister and her team did a great job with the video selections, interviews, reading material and visual input. Not to mention the invaluable sharing of her knowledge as curator of the MOMA photography department.

What a wonderful experience! I highly recommend it!

This course has given me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge on photography and strengthen my confidence towards the way I see photographs.

My best wishes to every one that decides to take this course! Regards

By Ana L

Mar 7, 2017

It was such a pleasant journey, thank you so much because I learned a lot and specially I discover a variety of talented photographers that have inspire me even more, This course has aroused my curiosity in to all the different types and possibilities what we can work and explore within. I really like this course and the way it is done. Sorry if I did not participate on the discussions but apart the lack of time as my english is not very good I do not feel very comfortable exposing my ideas on another language.