Master the technical and conceptual sides of traditional and new techniques, including 35mm, large-format, and digital.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
The photography major is offered in the four-year bachelor of fine arts degree program. Our BFA curriculum is rooted by the
Core Four curriculum—fundamental courses that are structured to enrich each student's professional development over four years. Course Descriptions
PH 2000 Introduction to Photography 3
This course introduces students to the tools and techniques of analog black-and-white photography. Technical lectures and demonstrations cover 35mm camera operation, film processing, and black-and-white wet-room printing with a variety of paper types. Camera operations covered include aperture, shutter speed, film speed, depth of field, movement, and light meters. Students are encouraged to create a dynamic work flow that includes shooting, processing, interpreting contact sheets, printing, and critique. Class lectures, readings, library visits, and research introduce students to the canon of photographic history, including a broad range of genres, historical contexts, and artistic practices.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1
AH 3610 History of Photography 3
Since its invention in 1839, photography has grown from an exotic technology to the most widespread representational form in current use. Photography has been at the center of many of the important art movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Pictorialism, Modernism, Surrealism, Pop Art, and Postmodernism, and digital media. This course will consider photography as a commercial medium, an important tool for social change, and a fine art. Particular attention will be paid to individual photographers, whose work will be examined within changing technological, economic, institutional, and aesthetic contexts. Course consists of lectures and discussions. Students will write online reviews and create a historical timetable.
PH 3010 The Photographic Idea 3
This course is designed to develop and expand ideas about photographic representation through expanding students range of interests and uses of the medium. Both digital imaging techniques and silver-based materials are explored with an eye toward expansion and experimentation. Projects include invented persona writing, pinhole pictures, the body and expressive gesture, cross-media appropriation, and an independent project. Critiques, discussions, readings, writing, visual lectures, field trips, and student presentations augment assignments, projects, and the use of the digital photo lab and medium-format cameras.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Photography
PH 3020 Color Photography 3
This course concentrates on various photographic color materials. Students acquire a working understanding of color film, Kelvin scale, medium-format cameras, the relationship of analog and digital output, mural printing, and professional presentation. In addition, students discuss image relationships and meaning, editing, curating, and post-production as opportunities to improve their work through critique and discussion. An oral presentation and semester-long project concentrate on the roles research, ideation, image selection, and writing play in the creation of a cohesive body of work. Lectures, readings, research, class discussions, and field trips support all aspects of the course.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Photography
PH 3030 Photographic Lighting 3
This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the aesthetic, technical, theoretical, and conceptual issues related to artificial lighting. Although photographic lighting is emphasized, a variety of media image production is addressed. Topics include the physical properties of light and shadow, continuous light and electronic flash, metering, studio lighting, location lighting, and color compensation. Assignments cover a range of subjects including portraiture, still life, and architecture. In addition to the technical and practical aspects of this course, students are expected and encouraged to develop a personal aesthetic and conceptual foundation for their work. Topics will be addressed through a series of lectures, demonstrations, and critiques for each assignment.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Photography
PH 3040 Large-Format Photography 3
This course is a thorough exploration of the materials, processes, and techniques of large-format (4x5” negatives or larger) photography. Students acquire a working understanding of large-format camera technique, including camera movements such as tilts, swings, and shifts, as well as perspective correction. This course emphasizes advanced understanding of negative exposure, sheet-film processing, tonal-range manipulation, digital scanning, and large-format output. Contemporary issues and concepts are explored through reading, visual research, and discussion and then applied through a series of visual problems. Students are evaluated on individual projects, critiques, a final portfolio, discussions, and quizzes.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Photography
PH 3060 Digital Photography Studio 3
The purpose of this course is to provide students with an extensive and thorough expertise in digital photography. Through a series of in-depth demonstrations and lectures students address advanced techniques of image capture, enhancement, and output such as RAW-file workflow and digital mural printing. The course is organized around a series of assigned exercises, projects, and critiques and results in the creation of a photographic portfolio.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Photography, one 3000-level Photography course
MA 4000 Professional Practice 3
The primary focus of this class is to provide Media Arts students with the tools that will enable to enter professional practice immediately following graduation. Each student is required to produce a polished résumé, artist statement, website, professional identity system, and portfolio. Topics include long-range goal creation and planning; financial, legal, and other business considerations; grant writing; and communication and marketing skills involving verbal, written, and visual presentations. Topics are presented through lectures, critiques, and presentations by experts in the field.
Prerequisites: Junior standing
PH 4010 Internship 3
Internships provide an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in a particular career area and valuable on-the-job skills. Internships may be arranged by the Director of Career Services or initiated by students. All internships must be pre-approved through the Career Services Office. For an internship to be approved, a mentor relationship and learning experience should exist beyond a simple employment opportunity. Three-credit internships require working 135 hours at the internship site and keeping a journal of hours and activities.
Prerequisites: Professional Practice
PH 5010 Advanced Photography Seminar 3
This course is designed to enable and support students working on independent projects in photography. Students are encouraged to articulate concerns and shape them into a body of work. Appropriate advanced technical skills and readings are introduced with particular attention to verbal and written critical skills. Critiques, image lectures, discussions, technical demos, student presentations, journals, and exhibition/publication submissions encourage individual investigation and creative expansion.
Prerequisites: three 3000-level Photography courses, successful Junior Review
PH 5100 Senior Project 6
During the senior year, each Photography major is required to develop and complete a substantial body of work. This course provides a forum for the critical evaluation of this work and curatorial guidance in preparation for the commencement exhibition. Course content includes critical readings, a position paper, individual and group discussions, a school presentation, and informational meetings.
Prerequisites: successful Junior Review, Senior standing
Select one of: 3 PH 3050 Photographic Book 3
The central goal of this course is the understanding and shaping of photographic meaning through book conception and production. Projects and exercises develop skills in sequence, image layout, image and text relationships, and physicality. A major portion of the course is devoted to producing a book of one's own work. Creative use of page layout software, refinement of digital printing techniques, and the use of online publishing software are explored. Activities also include critiques, image and book lectures, technical demonstrations, field trips, and student presentations.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Photography, one 3000-level Photography course PH 3070 Alternative Processes 3
This course concentrates on hand-coated photographic prints using historic and contemporary chemical recipes and high UV light sources, including the sun. Using large-format negatives, students utilize a variety of processes, including cyanotype, salt print, palladium/platinum print, gum print, and liquid light. Emphasis is placed on the chemistry, safety, and the relationship of print syntax to photographic meaning.
Prerequisites: Large-Format Photography
First-Year Studio Foundation 15 FDN 1111 Foundation: 2D 3
This course is an introduction to creative thinking that develops skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. There is an emphasis on learning new ways to read and see the world and how to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.
FDN 1112 Foundation: 3D 3
This course is an introduction to understanding of visual creation for the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, information, lectures, and discussions appropriate to promote the balanced fusion of practice and theory.
FDN 1211 Foundation: Drawing 1 3
This course is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the College. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior spaces, and landscape.
FDN 1311 Foundation: Media 1 3
Students are introduced to the digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media and laptop computing. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, student servers, Media Center, and digital resources. Students discuss media and media artists as well as study various software applications including Adobe Photoshop and web-development tools.
FDN 1312 Foundation: Media 2 3
Building on the skills acquired in Foundation: Media 1, this course takes up more advanced software applications. Through discussions and lectures, students explore various modes of media presentation, the power of moving images, and web work. Using a variety of software and hardware, students learn the basics of nonlinear editing, sound recording, and video recording.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1
First-Year Liberal Arts Foundation 12 AH 1701 Introduction to Art and Design History 1 3
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, and historical trends in Western art history from prehistoric times through the nineteenth century. This course is designed to encourage a critical understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. The final section of this course deals with the emergence of modernity in art. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion. Students will take in-class examinations and complete short essay assignments.
AH 1702 Introduction to Art and Design History 2 3
This course introduces students to issues in contemporary cultural theory, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics include anti-aesthetic challenges to modernist aesthetics, the rise of consumerism, the proliferation of the designed object, and the transition from source-oriented media to user oriented media, among others. The course is a roughly equal mix of lecture and discussion. Students will produce short writing assignments and will complete written exams consisting of identification and essay questions.
EN 1100 Reading and Writing 1 3
Effective writing requires innovative thinking and creative engagement. Students in this course focus on building a writing portfolio by developing college-level writing skills and using these skills to produce a variety of assignments. Regular writing workshops will allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Assigned course materials will explore a variety of texts and objects. By the end of the course students will have the foundational skills to be reflective and eloquent writers. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, group work, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, directed group work and research assignments, and a portfolio of seven essays.
EN 1200 Reading and Writing 2 3
Key to the creative and critical nature of college-level writing is the idea that students explore a topic by developing a thesis that changes as they ask questions, explore ideas, and conduct research. To that end, this course extends and concentrates the thinking and communication skills introduced in Reading and Writing 1. The foci of this course are developing a thesis; engaging in critical and sustained research; and drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading a finished research project. As a result, students will become increasingly adept at utilizing a wide variety of research tools, from published books to online search engines. The final project will be a completed research paper and a visual presentation using programs such as PowerPoint. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, research exercises, presentations and debates, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, a research journal, a major research paper and a final research presentation.
Second-Year Studio Foundation 4 FDN 1411 Ideation and Process 3
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as the artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post-production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing FDN 1412 Sophomore Seminar: Contemporary Practice 1
Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. This course is designed to introduce students to the variety, tools, and foundations of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create a professional presentation of their work as well as hear from guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing
varying Studio Electives 26
Photography majors take 26 elective studio credits in any media they choose.
Liberal Arts Electives
varying Liberal Arts Electives 24
Photography majors take liberal arts electives in the following distribution:
Art History (6 credits)
Scientific Perspectives (3 credits)
Economic and Mathematical Systems (3 credits)
Global Perspectives (3 credits)
Political Thought and Ethics (3 credits)
Creative and Professional Writing (3 credits)
Liberal Arts Capstone Course (3 credits)
On-site internships at organizations such as media companies and photography studios—both local and international—allow students to l
earn about the industry, enhance their skills, network, and build their portfolios. Previous students have interned at the following organizations, among many others:
Angela Strassheim, New York ▪ City Pages ▪ First Avenue & 7th Street Entry ▪ Gillette Children's Hospital ▪ Ignite Models ▪ Intermedia Arts ▪ Minneapolis Institute of Arts ▪ Steve Double, England ▪ The Swim Agency ▪ Timberwolves