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Photography Lighting Classes and Courses Overview

Students enrolled in photography lighting courses develop techniques and proficiency with lighting equipment for studio and on-location photography work. Read about common photography lighting courses in this article.

Essential Information

Photography lighting courses are generally offered through bachelor's or master's degree programs in photography; however, some associate degree or certificate programs in photography may also cover lighting. Photography certificate programs are commonly available through the continuing education departments of schools. These programs are geared toward professionals looking to enhance their skills as well as beginning photographers. Standalone courses in photography lighting techniques may also be available through college or university continuing education departments.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in photography lighting courses:

  • History of photography
  • Camera controls
  • Photography software
  • Aesthetic effects
  • Light manipulation
  • Individual representation
  • Location exploration

List of Common Courses

Fundamentals of Photography Course

This introductory course presents an overview of both the general history of photography and the progression of techniques from photography's beginnings in the early 20th century to its use in the present day. Students investigate both technical aspects and aesthetic presentation with an emphasis on relating past movements to current trends. A basic knowledge of camera controls, lighting, exposure and software is provided.

Studio Lighting Course

A studio lighting course teaches students to use essential lighting equipment and techniques in order to accomplish desired aesthetic effects. Emphasis is placed on balancing available artificial studio lighting with creative angles and the effects of various digital SLR cameras and software.

Portrait Photography Course

Students continue to study studio lighting and shooting techniques as they apply specifically to portraits. Emphasis is placed on utilizing a variety of lighting resources to most efficiently capture the emotion, expression and depth of facial features. Students test several variables, including make-up, clothing, poses and settings, as well as evaluate their work to determine the appropriate lighting setup for a variety of situations.

Outdoor and Travel Lighting Course

This course presents a general overview of on-location photography, including a focus on outdoor lighting techniques. Students learn the differences between shooting urban and rural environments, as well as natural landscapes. Photography students also learn to adapt to changing lighting and weather while maintaining artistic or documentary goals.

Advanced Lighting Techniques Course

Building on the knowledge and tools students have already acquired, this photography course presents more advanced lighting techniques, contemporary theories and refined application processes. The class encompasses both in-studio and on-location photography and emphasizes individual students' creative vision and goals for specific photographs.

Photography Portfolio Course

Here students compile a collection of their own photography with the intention of preparing it for professional sale. Emphasis is on presentation and content selection. Students often choose to showcase angles, lighting techniques and editing.


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