Bachelor of Science (BS): Digital Photography Degree Overview
Get details on the technical skills you can gain in a Bachelor of Science in Digital Photography program, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts program in the same major. See what education and experience you need to be eligible for admission, and learn about some of the career statistics and continuing education paths in this field.
Programs in digital photography may be available as Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs, but they're usually found as Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs. Some B.S. in Photography programs may offer courses in digital photography. While both programs share courses in topics such as darkroom techniques and lighting, the BFA program highlights more creative expression in digital photography with subjects like color theory and image manipulation.
The use of various computer software programs is another area of discussion, as are the many types of photography. Basic admissions requirements include having a digital camera, holding a high school diploma or GED and sometimes showing a portfolio.
Bachelor's Degrees in Digital Photography
Students interested in earning a bachelor's degree in digital photography have several options, depending on their career goals. A B.S. program generally emphasizes business and technical coursework. A B.A. or BFA program stresses developing creative and design skills.
Regardless of degree sought, digital photography students learn the fundamentals of taking photographs, working with them in a digital darkroom, making prints and preparing them for showing to others. Lighting, photo composition, color theory and design skills are covered. Students are expected to have their own digital SLR camera and tripod. Some programs also have computer or software requirements that students will need to meet in order to be able to complete coursework and assignments.
Most bachelor's degree programs in digital photography expect applicants to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some schools have flexible admission guidelines and will consider applicants based on their ability to perform the work required of the program. Digital photography programs may prefer or require submission of a portfolio along with application materials.
In addition to foundational courses in photography techniques and lighting, students may take classes specific to the creative and technical aspects of digital photography. Topics can include:
- Introduction to digital prepress
- Principles of digital imaging
- Web design concepts
- Digital lab skills
- Image manipulation skills
Popular Career Options
Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in digital photography usually qualify for entry-level jobs. While some students do open their own studio or perform freelance work, others find a job as a:
- Photographer's assistant
- Digital photo retoucher
- Digital prepress operator
- Photo lab technician
- School photographer
Bachelor of Science in Photography
For students who'd like a more broad understanding of photography, a B.S. in Photography can provide basic technical and aesthetic skills in print and digital photography. The curriculum may strike a balance between commercial art and business skills and the development of students' creative vision. Students learn technical skills such as lighting, digital imaging, editing and studio techniques. Students may learn different types of photography from news and documentary to fashion and nature.
Students are required to own their own digital camera. Other required equipment may include a scanner, lenses, lighting and printer. Most programs also require completion of a portfolio as part of the degree requirements.
Admission requirements, including a minimum high school GPA, may vary by school. Commonly, applicants need to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Students are generally required to take general education courses in addition to the core classes. Some classes may help prepare students for the business aspect of photography. Courses may include:
- Color photography
- Photography on location
- Photographic lighting
- Image management
- Digital imaging techniques
- Photo editing
- History of photography
- Photo criticism
- Elements of studio photography
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted employment of photographers would grow by 4% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Growth of Internet media, such as online news and magazines, may open up opportunities for digital and freelance photographers; however, the rise of software advancements and the falling prices of relevant digital technology created a competitive market. According to the BLS, work experience and specialized skills such as technical proficiency may help increase a photographer's chances of employment. According to the BLS, the annual median salary of a photographer was $28,490 in 2012.
Students interested in graduate-level courses may pursue a master's degree in photography. Degree options may include a Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography or Master of Fine Arts in Photography. Advanced classes in lighting, composition, image processing and illustration are coupled with studio management courses that address students' business and artistic goals. Students may pursue a concentrated area of study, like fashion, fine art, documentary or advertising photography. Most programs require that students put together a portfolio of their work. Thesis and non-thesis options may be available.
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