Learn from tradition and modern.
Master technical and conceptual.
Find your voice and stand out to employers.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree
By studying photography from its roots to tomorrow’s trends—silver, digital, and beyond—students in this program learn to hone their skills, find a personal voice, and produce awe-inspiring works.
Photography is a major offered in the four-year BFA degree program. Our BFA curriculum is rooted by
Core Four—foundation courses that enhance students' professional development.
PH 2000 Photography 1 3
This class introduces students to important ideas and work from the history of photography as a means of contextualizing and articulating their own work. Utilizing digital photography workflow, Introduction to Photography moves from camera operation through Photoshop processing to various output formats from web to paper. Emphasis is placed on the way decisions made at each step of this process contribute to photographic form, function, and meaning. Introduction to Photography consists of technical demonstrations, readings, visual lectures, and group and individual critiques.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1
PH 3055 Photographic Systems 3
This course is designed to develop and expand the strategies of photographic representation through projects, readings, writing assignments, critiques, and visual image presentations. Photography is explored as a visualizing medium for related fields: sculpture, performance, literature, science, psychology, social media, etc. Contemporary interest in the materiality of photographic processes including non-camera image making and abstract photography are also explored. Attention to display possibilities as a means to construct context and shape meaning is emphasized. Digital and analog imaging techniques introduced in Photography 1 are further explored.
Prerequisites: Photography 2, may be taken concurrently
PH 3035 Documentary Style 3
This course is an introduction to documentary traditions and contemporary considerations in photography. Students access difficult subject matter and learn the ethics of real-world engagement through several long-term projects undertaken in the course. Students learn to research and write about their subject matter while using DSLR, analog, or video cameras to complete their assignments. Historical and contemporary issues are explored through readings and discussions. Students are evaluated on individual projects, critiques, a final portfolio, discussions, and quizzes.
Prerequisites: Photography 1
AH 3610 History of Photography 3
Since its beginnings, photography has grown from an exotic technology used only by specialists to a socially ubiquitous representational form generating millions of images daily. This course surveys the development of the medium from an early commercial tool to its influence upon artistic trends and ultimately to an acceptance of photography as an aesthetic medium. Particular attention is paid to individual photographers involved in Pictorialism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Postmodernism, and digital media, and their works are contextualized within changing technological, economic, and institutional frameworks. Classes are primarily lecture with discussion. Students take examinations and complete research assignments.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 (may be taken concurrently) or instructor permission
PH 3045 Studio and Set 3
This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the aesthetic, technical, theoretical, and conceptual issues related to artificial lighting used in the various aspects of still and moving image production. Technical information covered includes portrait lighting, studio set lighting, architectural lighting, electronic flash, continuous light, camera movement, blocking for actors, and color compensation. In addition to the technical and practical aspects of this course, students are expected and encouraged to develop a personal aesthetic and a conceptual foundation for their images.
Prerequisites: Photography 1, or Introduction to Animation, or Introduction to Film, or Web + Screen
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 3015 Photography 2 3
This course is a thorough exploration of the materials, processes, and techniques of analog photography. Students acquire a thorough working knowledge of roll film and large-format photography. This course emphasizes advanced understanding of negative exposure, 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: Photography 1
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 preapproved through the MCAD Career Services Office and by the chair of the department. 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: Successful Junior Review
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: Successful Junior Review
PH 5100 Senior Project 6
During senior year, each media arts major is required to develop and complete a substantial body of work in his or her major. 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, position paper, individual and group discussion, 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 class 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 class 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 2500 Network and Archive 3
This course explores the relationship between groups of images and their circulation, especially with regard to digital media and environments. In the process of setting up a viable, professional archive of their own work, students utilize a variety of tools from keywords to GPS tagging for the organization, retrieval, and dissemination of their images. Additionally, students explore social media as a system of interlocking archives and create an online network of their own work across various web-based platforms.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1 PH 3070 Expanded 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, the safety, and the relationship of print syntax to photographic meaning.
Prerequisites: Large-Format Photography
First-Year Studio Foundation 15 FDN 1111 Foundation: 2D 3
Foundation: 2D is an introduction to creative thinking that develops students’ skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. An emphasis is placed on exploring new ways to read and see the world, as well as new ways 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
Foundation: Drawing 1 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 space, 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.
Prerequisites: None FDN 1312 Foundation: Media 2 3
Building on the skills acquired in Foundation: Media 1, this class 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, cultural, and historical transformations in Western and non-Western art history from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century. This course helps students develop critical tools for the interpretation and understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion. Students 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 modern art, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics might include the expanding audience for art, the transformation of the art market, the impact of new technologies, the changing status of the artist, and the role of art in society. This course is taught as a seminar with some lecture. Students take in-class examinations and complete short essay assignments.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 1
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 allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Students explore a variety of texts and objects through class assignments. By the end of the course students 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 I. 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 become increasingly adept at utilizing a wide variety of research tools, from published books to online search engines. The final project is 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.
Prerequisites: Reading and Writing 1
Second-Year Studio Foundation 4 FDN 1411 Ideation and Process 3
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as an 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. Contemporary Practice introduces students to the foundations, variety, and tools of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create professional presentations of their work. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines.
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 and Economic Systems (3 credits)
Histories, Places, and Philosophies (6 credits)
Creative and Professional Writing (3 credits)
Humanities and Sciences Elective (3 credits)
Liberal Arts Capstone Course (3 credits)