I was recently invited to review and comment on student photographs for an NYU journalism class, “Reporting Multimedia,” taught by Phil Rosenbaum. For the first hands-on assignment, students were given a disposable black and white Ilford camera and instructed to report on some aspect of life in New York City. The intention was to get them to explore photography as it used to be when there was no instant feedback on an image (and you had to rely on your eye and the camera viewfinder to find and frame your composition). I was sent one image from each student and asked to give feedback, guidance, and inspiration. I wondered how constructive I could be not having met any of the students, but once their photos started trickling in, I got very excited about the project. It was interesting to see how differently each student interpreted the assignment, but I was particularly struck by the unique way of seeing that was conveyed by each photo. In my comments to the class, I spoke about the formal qualities of the image—frame, point of focus, highlight/shadow (tonal range), and depth of field—and the feeling qualities—space, time, memory, atmosphere, movement, and light. Black and white images are especially powerful in our color-drenched digital world because they signal a step back from reality, but how does a photo communicate effectively? I mentioned light and dark, foreground and background, horizontal and diagonal lines, and placement of the figures as ways of directing the viewer’s gaze, but the one element I kept returning to was the framing. The edge or frame of the image—what stays in and what gets cropped out—sets the stage for everything that is contained within, “making sense of random and often unrelated details,” as photographer Paul Caponigro put it. The only way to learn what works is to keep photographing and analyzing your images (it also helps to look at the work of master photographers!). I was so inspired by the students’ work that I spent a sunny afternoon walking on the Mall with my iPhone on its black and white setting, doing a little reframing of my own.