What happens when students in an English Composition course use their own photographs and picture-taking experiences to inform their own writing? This is the question at the heart of this dissertation. To answer the question, I studied four of my own classes at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a commuter college, during the 2004/2005 academic year, in which students used their own personal images as a basis for writing and also took new photographs of their neighborhoods, experiences, and rituals that helped them craft essays rich in visual and textual detail. I witnessed my classes grow into learning communities where students would share photographs and writings of their home environments. As my students photographed and wrote of their worlds, they learned to create sophisticated texts centered on their lives, their neighborhoods, and their interests. In crafting and sharing personal essays rich in visual and textual development, these commuting students learned much about their own composing process and about each other; I in turn, as a teacher and as a reader, gained a rich understanding of my students' lives far removed from the classroom. In chapters One and Two, I offer foundational theories from composition, photography, English literature, and anthropology to help frame the study. I examine the creation of a student-centered classroom and the pedagogy that supports the assigning of projects in a composition class that combine students' own photographs and picture-taking experiences. In chapters Three, Four, and Five, I bring the reader into the classroom with me and discuss and give examples of three picture assignments while focusing on the pedagogical theories that placed me in the critical multipositionary nexus of teacher, observer, and researcher.