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School of Photography

The School of Photography at Academy of Art University will help turn your passion for photography into a profession. Study both traditional and digital photography in a creative, real-world environment that expands your technical abilities across a variety of tools and platforms. Create a cohesive body of work that demonstrates your skills, showcases your personal voice, and prepares you for cutting-edge careers in this vibrant and evolving industry at our photography school.

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What We Teach

Create images that command attention and remain memorable. A determination to create work that speaks to the viewer is at the heart of the Academy's photographic education. Technical excellence is coupled with an advancement of the conceptual idea. Visual storytelling is the goal. A great photography school provides students with the opportunity to explore, experiment with, and become proficient in a number of disciplines. It’s only by completing an assortment of photography courses that a student can say for certain which discipline they want to pursue. Plus, having an all-encompassing knowledge of various photographic techniques and styles is always wonderful!

Commercial Photography
Simply put, commercial photography means taking photos for commercial use; for business, for sales, for money. Commercial photographers often create photos for advertisements, sales pitches, brochures, product placements, and merchandising—to name a few. You also contribute to campaigns in illustration and editorial contexts for a variety of fields and industries. Come see what makes us one of the best photography colleges for aspiring commercial photographers. (Photo by Pablo Jimenez)
Documentary Photography
Documentary photography aims to chronicle people, events, and environments in order to tell a story, and at times, send a message. Working as a documentary photographer, you will capture a series of images that represent pieces of what living means, and share them with the world. Remember, not all colleges that teach photography teach documentary photography. We do! (Photo by Santosh Korthiwada)
Fashion Photography
Fashion photography is an exciting and dynamic part of the advertising industry. Many of our students are drawn to this type of work and find themselves working collaboratively with designers, models, stylists, and advertising agencies around the world. (Photo by Jasmine Rydell)
Fine Art Photography
Fine Art photographers produce images that convey mood and themes. Our fine art students work in a broad range of photographic techniques from the newest technologies to the most historic processes with a clear goal of creating a unique portfolio that represents the individual artist. Being able to obtain a specialized education is of utmost importance for those who are researching photography colleges. Fine art photography is one of the most sought-after areas of expertise amongst aspiring photographers. In this course, we teach students how to hone their creative process, construct compelling scenes, and enhance their images using techniques like symbolism, juxtaposition, and symmetrical balance. (Photo by Natalie Lynn Scott)
Still Life Photography
Still Life photography encompasses a broad range of studio equipment, lights, digital backs, and creative tools. This is a broad area of photography that touches both advertising and fine art photography. (Photo by Patrik Parulekar)
Photo Illustration
Photo Illustration photographers combine a number of different photographs to draw the viewer into their visual narratives to illicit curiosity and interest. They combine technical and conceptual expertise to produce editorial and advertising work that effectively communicates compelling stories that move people to act. (Photo by Weston Fuller)
Visualization
You have to be able to see an image in your mind’s eye before capturing it on camera. This process is referred to as visualization, a skill the world’s most prolific photographers depend on to produce their creative masterpieces. While some would argue visualization can’t be learned at professional photography schools, we believe visualization is similar to creativity. Sure, you can be born with it, but you can also nurture it through practice. This class provides tips and tricks for sharpening your mind’s eye and envisioning the composition of an image before taking it.
History of Photography
The best art schools for photography require students to be taught the history of the craft — and ours is no exception. We know that to fulfill our mission of helping students master their chosen discipline, we need to deepen their understanding of it, including its progression over time. This course covers all the major milestones and eras, from the invention of the camera obscura to modern-day “selfie” culture.
Portfolio Development
Producing a captivating, curated, and well-conceptualized body of work is a must for every photographer, especially those new to the field. It’s a tedious process, but it pays off in time. Our seasoned and highly-skilled instructors assist students with developing their artist statements. We also help them compile a portfolio that speaks to their unique creative vision and talent.
Portraiture
Few photography specializations are as applicable as portraiture. From corporate headshots to lifestyle portraits, glamor shots, and conceptual portraits — there are countless ways to put this skill into practice. That’s why it’s always recommended to seek out schools for photography that offer it. Our portraiture course takes students through key techniques like posing and positioning, lighting, depth of field, and more.

Alumni Stories

Academy alumni Greg Beams, Scott Borrero, and Daryn LaBier each have their own inspiring stories to tell about their passion for photography. The one element they share in their narratives, however, is how the Academy has helped them down their chosen paths towards a successful career.

Finding My Voice: Greg Beams Photography Graduate
Alumni Success: Scott Borrero
Alumni Success: Daryn LaBier

School of Photography Overview

Within one of the most renowned photography schools in the country, watch how Academy of Art University students master their craft through both traditional and innovative courses and build a long and fulfilling photography career from behind the lens. If you are an aspiring fine art photographer, commercial and fashion photographer, documentary photographer, or retoucher/compositor, see how you can learn from some of today’s most accomplished professionals in the photography industry.

Start Your Career Now

Your dream is within reach. Follow your heart and get started on the career of your dreams.

Facilities & Technology

The latest in software and equipment is essential to preparing you to enter the work force, which is why our digital photography schools keep up with current advancements in the latest photographic technology and industry practices. Whatever the pros are doing and whatever the pros are using is what you will find in our classrooms and studios.

Faculty

Get to know our world-class photography instructors and see why we’re one of the top arts universities in the country.

Student Stories

Having inherent talent is one thing, but being able to properly nourish it through an environment that is both supportive and challenging is another. This series of videos from Photography students Braden Summers, Santosh Korthiwada, and Elena Zhukova highlights the importance of finding a program that gives you the tools to create and develop a cohesive body of work, faithfully representative of yourself as an artist, and one that you can proudly show off to the real world as a professional.

Student Success - Photography: Finding My Style
Student Success - Photography: The Art of Seeing
Student Success - Photography: Staying In The Present

Alumni Success

Many of our photography school graduates go on to experience tremendous success, having their images featured in notable publications like National Geographic Magazine, hosting their own photography workshops, or providing photos for advertising campaigns by world-renowned brands like Dodge, SONY, and Hollister. Below are a few of our favorite success stories:

Featured Alumni

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Industry Partnership

The Young & Hungry

During his last two semesters before graduating, Photography BFA student Chad Jenkins decided to take classes in the School of Advertising. "This initial experience prepared me for what it's like for a commercial photographer to get hired and eventually work with an advertising agency."

Careers in Photography

As one of the top photography schools in the country, Academy of Art University photography graduates have a range of opportunities to choose from. Our photography school facilities, faculty, and hands-on learning approach are designed to provide you with the tools you need to succeed as a professional photographer.

VIEW ALL CAREERS

Your career starts here.
Take the first step.
Or call 415-274-2222 to request more information about this program.
Commercial Photographer
Simply put, commercial photography means taking photos for commercial use; for business, for sales, for money. Commercial photographers often create photos for advertisements, sales pitches, brochures, product placements, and merchandising—to name a few. You also contribute to campaigns in illustration and editorial contexts for a variety of fields and industries. (Photo by Pablo Jimenez)
Documentary Photographer
Documentary photography aims to chronicle people, events, and environments in order to tell a story, and at times, send a message. Working as a documentary photographer, you will capture a series of images that represent pieces of what living means, and share them with the world. (Photo by Santosh Korthiwada)
Fine Art Photographer
As a fine art photographer, you will develop original works of art from concept to exhibition. The definition of what a fine art photographer is lies in the aspirations and motivations of the photographer—their personal style and preferences. The best fine art photographers create a visual language to communicate with the world. (Photo by Cadrian Johnston)
Company logo for Williams Sonoma
Company logo for Google
Company logo of Monster
Company logo for Gap

COMPANIES THAT HAVE HIRED OUR GRADUATES

Learn Online

Interested in colleges for photography that will allow you to study from home? Our revolutionary online courses provide the same rigorous education that we offer on campus with greater flexibility. Our online programs are purpose-built to deliver art and design courses. Study on your own time, at your own pace. Combine online and on-campus classes.

Find Out More

It isn’t easy to decide where you’ll receive your education for photography, but there is support available to you.

We welcome you to attend one of our open house events, where you can explore our campus in person, ask questions, and get a glimpse at what student life will be like.  During your visit, you’ll meet our friendly and dedicated faculty members who will provide all the information you need to make a confident decision about your future.


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