Josh Birnbaum is an associate lecturer in the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University, where he teaches photography, picture editing, digital imaging, and video storytelling courses. He has worked for the Oakland Tribune, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Omaha World-Herald, The Peoria Journal Star, and The Dallas Morning News. In addition, he interned at James Nachtwey's studio.
His first book, "Dream Shot: The Journey to a Wheelchair Basketball National Championship," was released via the University of Illinois Press in 2017 and photographically documents the University of Illinois men’s wheelchair basketball team, one of the first in the nation. The work chronicles the team’s journey to a national championship, memorializing a legendary team alongside its contribution to the progress of disability rights. David Guttenfelder, National Geographic photographer said of "Dream Shot," "Birnbaum's respectful and big-hearted honest photographs show us that on the court, and especially off of the court during their everyday lives, this is a team and a community of champions."
Birnbaum has a passion for social justice and has worked as a visiting artist with the Athens Photographic Project – a non-profit fine arts program that offers photography classes to community members living with persistent mental illness – where he taught advanced classes and led artists in pursuit of their creative and personal recovery goals. Every summer, he works with non-profit Circle Round the Square in Nelsonville, Ohio, to offer photography classes to at-risk youth through a summer arts and wellness camp.
Birnbaum currently volunteers as the secretary of the Athens Municipal Arts Commission, where he advocates for incorporating more local art into the public realm. He also maintains client work with select editorial and non-profit outlets.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois, and an Master of Arts from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication.
Interest areas include photojournalism and documentary photography, video storytelling, documentation of music subculture, expressive photographic pedagogy for youth, media storytelling for non-profit organizations, and participatory media.
Courses (undergraduate) taught include Photojournalism I: Single Images, Photojournalism II: Picture Story, Illustration I: Digital Imaging, Multimedia Production for Visual Communication, Visual Communication Picture Editing, Photojournalism III: Motion and Sound, Documentary Photography, Photojournalism Capstone, and Individual Study.
Courses (graduate) taught include Photojournalism III: Motion and Sound, Documentary Photography, Editorial Photography, Aspects of Photo Communication, Visual Communication Picture Editing, Multimedia Production for Visual Communication, and Individual Study.