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Photography Courses at University: What to Study?

By Sophia, published on 29/01/2018 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > Photography > A Guide to University Photography Courses

If you love to capture slices of daily life – a matron shopping or an infant sleeping, why not focus and refine your passion through photography courses?

Should you aspire to be a photojournalist or documentary photographer; in fact if you find yourself most adept behind the lens but don’t yet know where your love of photography will take you, attaining a degree in photography is the first step on that photography career path.

Public and private institutions in the UK offer programmes in the art of photography.

Students of these photography classes receive tertiary level general education in addition to vocational instruction on the various aspects of photography as a metier and a form of art.

Depth of field, composition and hands-on usage of photographic equipment: Bachelors’ programmes in professional photography will cultivate students’ technique as well as their artistic flair.

Let us now uncover some of the best photography study programmes in the UK!

If you wish to make a career out of capturing and publishing images, be they snapped in a studio or in nature, professional development generally demands a degree.

As with all college/university degrees, the student learning basics of photography is treated to higher general education at the outset, with more attention given to the art and science of photography toward the end of the programme.

In general, the syllabus for such programmes are hammered out by the Department for Education.

In seeking a school that offers diplomas in photographic arts, you should make it a priority to find those whose diplomas are accredited.

They lend your degree more gravitas when seeking employment in the field of photography.

Anyone with a camera could bill themselves as a photographer Getting an education in photography teaches you the depth of the field. Source: Pixabay Credit: Michael Gaida

Fields of study include, among others:

  • Professional Practice of photography
  • Culture of Photography
  • History of photography
  • Visual Communication
  • Computer graphics and digital images
  • Hardware and technology
    • dslr cameras, lenses and light meters; Adobe lightroom and Photoshop are included
  • Applied arts and photography training for artistic ventures

To ensure successful graduation, the candidate is generally required to present a photographic project, and would be called on to expound on the steps taken in executing his/her work.

For some courses, the student would also draft a thesis related to the field of photography: a critical study of several photographic works, or expound on how to photograph various subjects.

Such aspects could be: uses of an infinity cove, directing models effectively, or drawing a comparison between analog (film) and digital photography.

If night photography is your particular passion, you might talk about lighting techniques, shutter speed, exposure and apertures required for those specialised snaps.

To successfully demonstrate your theoretical and practical knowledge of photography, you must present knowledge and skill of both aspects!

Food for thought: in spite of advances in digital slr cameras, film photography remains a prevalent form of artistic expression in photography.

Thus, as you search for your ideal photography school, you might consider those that embrace both media.

Choosing a Specialty for Photography Classes

You may have long known you were destined for photographic greatness, but what aspect of it?

You are aware that there are multiple aspects to professional photography, aren’t you?

We’re not talking about knowing how to use Adobe software or simple tasks such as changing lenses on your camera.

You may choose to specialise in:

  • Wedding photography
  • Portrait photography
    • baby photography and group photography are sub-specialties
  • Fashion photography
  • Studio photography
  • Wildlife photography
  • Nature photography
  • Landscape photography
  • Photojournalism
  • Macro photography – the imaging of small creations, from insects to jewellery
  • Action photography

We would suggest taking several tutorials, under the guidance of established photographers, prior to settling on any specialty.

That will help you determine your aptitude for various types of photography.

And, while we’re talking about aptitude…

Engaging with your camera informally, outside of photography courses near me or tutelage, is a great way to explore areas of photography.

For example: street photography combines portraiture, architecture and landscape, all while calling on knowledge of lighting and composition.

If you are under a time constraint, knowing what aspect of photography you wish to specialise in will permit you to target that area, without investing time in trying other forms of the art.

Rule number 1: to save time (and money!), know what type of photography you wish to practice professionally.

Remember: while cultivating one aspect of work behind the lens as a vocation, nothing says you can’t engage in another type of photography as a hobby!

No need to feel limited to only one branch of this exciting activity.

Learn to use natural light to its best advantage with your mentor As a student of photography, it is likely you would be assigned a mentor Source: Pixabay Credit: Sbtlneet

Schools that Offer a Photography Course

Throughout the UK, there are no fewer than 74 institutions that offer degrees in photography!

That list does not include private schools that develop photographers for professional shoots.

A number of well-to-do people prefer private education for career development, believing the quality of education is superior than anything taught in public schools.

Please don’t be fooled by that stereotype!

Many public establishments have turned out professional photographers who are recognized for their quality work and innovation.

It might behoove you to review information from former students of select institutions before you enroll in any photography class.

Here is a decidedly non-exhaustive list of institutions that could help you become the best photographer:

  • Middlesex University in London
  • University of Salford in Manchester
  • Leeds Art University in Leeds (obviously!)
  • University of Herfordshire
  • Falmouth University in Cornwall
  • St John University in York
  • Bornemouth University
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University

Geography is, of course, a consideration to any university you enrol with.

Living in London, for example, you would have a choice of several schools through which you can earn your degree in photography. There are also many private tutors to give photography courses London, both locally or online.

However, living in the Highlands or some other, less populated area, you may only have access to online photography courses.

Good news! Many of the institutions that offer professional development of photographers also boast an intranet, so that you could take courses online!

And, for students who have no opportunity at university, either attending in person or via distance learning, there exists several online courses to become a professional or commercial photographer.

Online Photography Courses

Who says that online learning is reserved only for academic subjects, or languages?

These days, you can learn almost anything online!

Some people think that online learning does not compare to a traditional, brick and mortar institution.

At some point in the past, that may have been true.

Not today!

With but a quick search, you could soon find an accredited organisation that suits your needs and budget.

Or, you could make use of this handy photography courses online list we’ve compiled for you.

  • Digital Photography offers an accredited programme from which you could earn a Level 3 certification in photography.
  • The British Institute of Professional Photography could be a good bridge into a formal institute, should you later desire to matriculate in a brick and mortar institution.
    • You might use those credentials to apprentice with a commercial or professional photographer.
  • The University for Creative Arts offers a full BA Honors degree in photography, fully online.
  • The London Art College makes available a degree programme in photography, complete with materials and instructor support.

Food for thought: if you intend to open your own studio, you should gain a measure of business sense, about running a business in general, and the legalities and intricacies.

Thus, unless you apprentice with an already existing concern – a studio or ad agency, for example, you would be responsible for all of the paperwork endemic to running a business.

Taking a Level 3 accredited course online, you learn at least the rudiments of business management.

Earning your degree is the surest path to a career in photography Be wise as an owl: map your way to a career in photography through education! Source: Pixabay Credit: Alexa_Fotos

You’re Certified: Now What?

Every photography professional will tell you: obtaining a degree is the path to follow in making photography a full-time job.

Level 3 training in advanced photography includes all components necessary to establish oneself in the field of photography.

Therefore, it would be entirely possible to stop formal training after attaining a three-year degree; or you could prolong your studies.

Either way, your prospects could be lucrative, exciting and far-reaching.

With such a certification in hand, you could aim for any (or all!) of these stimulating careers:

  • General photography professions, which include:
    • assistant photographer, freelance photographer, animal photographer, post-production specialist, professional photography in photo studio
  • Fashion jobs: Fashion photographer, image editing in post processing
  • Artist: as a photographer you could create photographic art, exhibit in galleries; or photograph decorative art, and so on
  • Audiovisual Professions: Vision engineer, production assistant, director…

Even graphic artists, who create beautiful images digitally, quite often start as beginner photographers, and then learn how to embellish their shots digitally.

With a mention of graphic arts studies on your graduation transcript, you nearly have a shoo-in to the community of professional photographers!

Ideally, you would build a network of support throughout your educational process: be it through workshops with professional photographers or with the mentors at your school, or a combination of both.

Fortunately, most of the schools we investigated averred that they do promote such networking and support in job placement.

Food for thought: it would be entirely possible to take your love of photography to the next level by teaching the next generation of imaging professionals how to shoot.

Naturally, you would need post-graduate studies, as required to teach in any institution of higher learning.

You might also want to host workshops: in your own studio or home; around the city or at some of our country’s more stunning medieval architecture.

Whether you ply a digital camera or prefer 35mm; if you know all about studio lighting, white balance, and how to use natural light…

No matter if you hope for the excitement of commercial photography or the skill and artistry necessary to be a nature photographer, attaining formal education in photography is most certainly the right step to take.

Happy studies!

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