Digital Photography Classes and Courses

Jun 15, 2021

Essential Information

Digital photography courses teach students to produce high-quality photographs for aesthetic or commercial purposes. In addition to taking standalone courses on the subject, students can take them as part of a related certificate or degree program. Courses usually require that students possess a suitable camera, as there will be significant hands-on practice with taking pictures.

Both certificate and degree programs related to photography usually include courses exposing students to camera operations, lighting, photography theory and Adobe Photoshop. Students learn to take pictures, use digital filters, save pictures to a computer and edit their pictures. Students may also study specific types of photography, such as outdoor, underwater or street photography. Depending on the program in which one is enrolled, a professional seminar, final project, portfolio or internship in photography may be required. Some programs also give students the opportunity to develop pictures in an actual photo lab or take part in field studies.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in a digital photography class:

  • Camera basics
  • Business practices
  • Portfolio review
  • Lenses and filters
  • Composition
  • Color theory
  • Graphic design
  • Genres and techniques
  • Post-production

List of Common Courses

Fundamentals of Photography

Digital photography degree programs typically start with a course in basic photography that is designed to help familiarize students with camera operations. Students learn about a camera's aperture settings, shutter speeds, white balance, digital filters and histograms, and students are introduced to exposure, color and composition theory.

Photography History

Most photography degree programs, digital or otherwise, include a historical component. History courses educate students on famous photographers and the development of photography as both a commercial venture and artistic outlet. Students learn about the impact of photography on various industries, including advertising, journalism and fashion. This course is generally offered near the beginning of any program.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a widely used digital photo editing computer software program. Self-employed artistic photographers and large media corporations alike use the program. It is crucial that aspiring professional photographers understand how to edit, enhance and manipulate images with the program. Photoshop courses are typically required at the beginning of a degree program so students can use the program for future projects.

Digital Output

The quality of a printed digital image depends largely on the size of the file and the method of saving it on the computer. Digital output courses teach students about the computer file formats available for photographs and each one's affect the final product. Class discussions also cover paper selection. Students may take this course within the first two years of a 4-year degree program as part of learning the basics.


A studio course is an advanced class that allows students to hone their craft. Students learn to adjust camera settings, studio light and background color to achieve optimal quality images. Students photograph both people and objects in studio courses, learning to manipulate a camera's flash so that the subject of the photograph is in the best light possible. Some degree programs offer advanced studio courses on subjects like fashion photography, product advertisement photography or portraiture.


Photojournalism courses teach aspiring journalists to snap photographs that effectively communicate information to an audience. While many photography courses teach students to focus on the aesthetics of photography, photojournalism courses focus mainly on newsworthiness. Instructors train students to select lenses and camera settings most suitable for photographs that will appear in a newspaper or magazine. Many courses also explore news media ethics. This course is a specialty or concentration that a student may choose to pursue in the latter half of a program.

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