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Fashion Photography Degree Programs with Course Information

Photography degree programs are offered at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. The scope of learning in these training options varies from fundamental photography techniques and dark room processes to portfolio development and studio work.

Essential Information

There are no formal fashion photography degree programs. However, an undergraduate or graduate degree in photography includes the training necessary to pursue a career in fashion photography. Basic photography skills can be obtained through an associate's degree program, though a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography is widely considered by many professionals to be minimum requirement for pursuing a career in this field. Undergraduate programs require candidates have a diploma or GED certificate. Some art schools suggest that these applicants take high school-level art and photography courses.

For entry into a Master of Fine Arts program, students are usually required to have an undergraduate degree. Submission of a portfolio demonstrating some technical acumen and artistic ability in the photographic arts is requested for some undergraduate programs, but mandatory for graduate-level programs. A typical master's program is 3 years long and allows students to receive studio training throughout their time of study.


Associate of Arts in Photography

An Associate of Arts in Photography program introduces students to the technical aspects of producing photographic images. Hands-on instruction covers manipulation of images, controlling exposure, and photographic studio processes. Instruction is also provided on shot framing, various film and digital formats, and production of an effective and engaging portfolio. The curriculum of an associate's degree in photography focuses on building an understanding of the technical aspects of the field. Courses also emphasize how an understanding of these technical components directly impact the possibilities of the photography medium. Some possible courses include:

  • Photojournalism
  • Digital photography
  • Color theory
  • Drawing
  • Black and white photography
  • Photography for the fashion industry

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography

Besides offering a general introduction to the technical aspects of 35mm and digital photography, a BFA program will also address new photographic techniques and formats, such as large and medium-format photography and digital mural painting. A large part of the BFA program focuses on the development of a professional portfolio. Students work closely with advisors in developing a consistent theme and tone. Some studio elective courses will allow students to pursue specific interests within the field, such as fashion photography. Possible courses include:

  • Lighting
  • Color photography
  • Wet-room printing methods
  • Digital photography studio
  • History of the photographic medium
  • Alternative processing techniques

Master of Fine Arts in Photography

A master's degree in photography is the terminal arts degree for students pursuing careers as fashion photographers. This degree expounds on the technical concepts of photography and provides further study on photographic history and theory. A final thesis project is required, and some art schools may also require a supporting paper that addresses the critical and theoretical aspects of a student's body of work. An assistantship may also be offered as an option for interested students. Some possible courses include:

  • Medium-format photography
  • Large-format photography
  • Digital photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Color photography
  • Processing techniques

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The employment of photographers is expected to increase by 3% for the decade of 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual salary for photographers in 2015 as reported by the BLS was $31,710.

Students wanting to become fashion photographers will need to pursue an associate's, bachelor's, and/or master's degree in photography. Students can continue to increase their skill set and knowledge of photography at each degree level, and fashion photography may be an elective course option.


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