Major: Photography

What colleges offer a Major in Photography?

What makes an object beautiful? How can that same object be shown in a disturbing light? How has the camera evolved throughout the last century, and what impact have these changes had on the art world? Can a photograph created for business purposes, such as a billboard, ever transcend commerce and become art? As a photography major, you'll explore such ideas.

Of course, you’ll spend much of your time practicing the art of photography. You’ll learn the basics of composition, color balance, and the use of light. You’ll also experiment in the darkroom, practicing a range of techniques to control the way your image impacts the viewer.

Photography majors learn how to use cameras and film to express ideas, trigger emotion, and convey information. Topics of study include the operation and maintenance of cameras; darkroom technique; and lighting, composition, and color.

Did You Know?

The first lasting photographic prints were made in the 1830s in France by Joseph Niépce and Louis Daguerre.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Spend money on equipment and supplies
  • Compete for darkroom and computer time
  • Visit museums and galleries to study other photographers
  • Display your work in student shows
  • Take academic as well as photography classes
  • Learn the rules even as you break them
  • Learn standard techniques as you develop your own style
  • Work independently
  • Build a portfolio for graduation
  • Snap hundreds of photos while trying for a keeper
  • Search for new ideas
  • Experiment with film and digital photography
  • Listen to and learn from criticism of your work

It Helps To Be...

A visual thinker who loves looking at the world through a viewfinder. If you’re an artist with a techie side, you’ll enjoy working with cameras and in the darkroom.

College Checklist

  • Does the school offer a major in photography or in art with a concentration in photography?
  • Do you need to prepare a portfolio to be accepted into the school or the major?
  • Will you earn a B.A. or B.F.A (bachelor of fine arts)?
  • Does the program focus more on fine art or commercial photography? Does it emphasize darkroom photography over digital photography?
  • Are the facilities well maintained and up-to-date? Is there current digital technology as well as traditional equipment?
  • Is there enough darkroom time and space available for students to do their work? How is darkroom time shared between majors and nonmajors?
  • How many courses outside the department will you take? Can you combine your photography degree with course work in business, teaching, or another related area?
  • Are there any art museums or galleries on or near campus?

Did You Know?

The Crimean War, in Europe, and later the American Civil War were the first wars documented in photographs.

Course Spotlight

In an introductory photography course, you’ll learn how a camera works and how you can use it to achieve the effects you want. You’ll learn how to focus on a subject and how to adjust the shutter speed and the aperture for differences in distance and light.

During the semester, you’ll experiment with both digital and 35 millimeter cameras as well as with more unusual equipment such as large field cameras that hold only one negative at a time. You’ll also study the work of others and learn how to give and listen to constructive criticism. By the time you finish the class, you’ll be ready to make the most of your cameras to create your own art.