Schools with Camera Operation Degrees and Courses: How to Choose
The camera is central to many degree programs, including programs in photography and electronic media. Students learn how to use cameras (either still or video) to produce digital and color photography, portraits and documentary film, among other types of visual media.
How to Select a Camera Operation Degree Program
Entry-level students interested in photography as a profession can choose from associate's or bachelor's degree programs. Schools may provide camera equipment or require students to purchase their own. In many photography programs, students develop a portfolio that can represent their work to a potential employer. They also work in a collaborative environment where they critique one another's photographs and learn film editing processes.
Photography programs lasting two years, which can lead to an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.), tend to focus on preparing students for a career. An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program permits students to take more practical courses in photography and fulfill fewer liberal arts requirements than an A.A. or A.S. program. Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs, requiring four years of study, offer more classes discussing photography's history and cultural implications.
Students may want to consider whether a program will let them specialize in a certain field, such as architectural, landscape or nature photography. If they're interested in documentary photography and photojournalism, or advertising and commercial work, they can look for schools that provide classes and internships in these areas. Many schools let students work in specific technologies like non-silver processes and digital printing. Both 2-year and 4-year programs may offer internships, where students work for agencies or shadow employed photographers.
An electronic media or communications program is another option for students interested in camera operation. These programs focus on the photographer's role in TV and film production. They are likely to be pre-professional and to require an internship. Students could shoot a completed film for a final project or work on the set of a television show. Classes focus on sound, lighting, editing and other aspects of cinematography.
In some programs, students have the option of earning a Certificate of Completion or Certificate of Achievement, which requires fewer courses than an associate's degree and usually takes only one year. Most electronic media production degree programs are at the associate's level; a bachelor's degree program is likely to have a broader focus, such as historical film studies and communication.
Camera Operation Degree Program Overviews
Associate's Degree in Photography
These programs fast-track students through different aspects of photography, preparing them to build portfolios and make industry contacts. Students spend most of their time in classes directly related to taking photographs, such as portraiture, digital imaging and photojournalism classes. Relevant art topics like color theory are also explored.
Bachelor's Degree in Photography
In a 4-year program, students supplement interactive critique sessions and internships with classes on specific types of photography; for example, students might take a course in experimental photography and concentrate on capturing abstract images with their cameras. They also study photo design and art history, along with other aspects of the liberal arts. Graduates of a bachelor's degree program often go on to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Photography.
Associate's Degree in Film Production
Students learn conventions of film and theater firsthand, taking courses in areas like stagecraft and film history. Often, they practice hands-on camera operation by shooting their own films or working in a movie studio during the two years of these programs. Classes in sound and lighting, post-production and film editing are also included in the curriculum.
Associate's Degree in Television Production
Students focus their camera knowledge on shooting and editing for television. Broadcast production and studio TV production are emphasized in the coursework. Students may work as interns for different TV stations in preparation for a career in TV and electronic media. In addition to training in camera operation, students learn to manipulate the film they produce through the use of digital video effects and TV graphics.
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