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Best Online Schools for a Bachelor’s in Photography Degree for 2020

Photography is an interesting subject that offers a creative outlet for individuals to capture the best moments of life and the world around them. Online photography degrees enable students to develop technical skills that they can use to bring their ideas into reality. If one has some interesting image ideas and want to work them out, one can benefit from signing up for a photography course.

Photographers are needed in numerous fields and career prospects of photographers are good though it is a competitive career. Learning to take great photographs under different lighting and scenic conditions is a skill that students can use in a multitude of ways. Enrolling in one of the top online photography schools is a step in the right direction if one wishes to pursue this career.

The courseware of best online photography degrees are designed to help students develop technical and creative skills which in turn can help students succeed in different types of photography such as landscape photography, aerial photography, wildlife photography, sports or action photography, journalistic photography, architectural photography, portrait photography, wedding photography, fashion photography and event photography. It is important to note however that whichever online photography degrees one opts for, it should be accredited and recognized. In this article, we have explored some of the top schools that offer online photography programs. They have been ranked in terms of high to low tuition rates.

Schools covered in this article include the following:

  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • American Intercontinental University
  • Columbus State Community College
  • Santa Barbara City College
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • New York Institute of Photography
  • Stratford Career Institute
  • The Photography Institute
  • Academy of Art University
  • Arizona State University
  • eCornell-Cornell University

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, Georgia

Online Bachelor of Arts in Photography

Website

Savannah College of Art and Design or SCAD is a premium school of art. It provides both traditional and online degree programs for students who are interested in photography including the Bachelor of Arts in Photography. The programs are designed to meet various industry requirements, includes all the traditional theories as well as advanced technical skills and can help the students to advance their careers in varied industries. Students go on to practice in various industries as well as pursue successful freelance careers. The programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The other online photography programs offered by SCAD include the Master of Arts in Photography and Master of Fine Arts in Photography.
Tuition per year:$37,575

American Intercontinental University

Schaumburg, Illinois

Online BFA in Media Production: Digital Film and Postproduction

Website

The American Intercontinental University in Illinois offers online BFA in Media Production: Digital Film and Postproduction. This program can provide students with a strong understanding of the basic and advanced lessons in post-production techniques along with photography, editing, and lighting. It makes use of cutting-edge methods and equipment to bring about successful post-production results. The curriculum aligns with the best industry standards. Some of the topics explored in this program include Camera and Lighting, Production Techniques, Film and Audio Aesthetics and Postproduction along with Pitching and Project Management. The 180-credit program is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Tuition per year:$29,250

Academy of Art University

San Francisco, California

Online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography

Website

The Academy of Art University is regarded as one of the most prestigious educational institutions that offer photography programs including the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. The advanced curriculum and exceptional training help students develop skills they need to become a successful photographer, like all other programs offered by the institute. Students can choose from various photography degrees online. Other popular programs include Online Award of Completion in Photography, Associate of Arts in Photography, Master of Arts in Photography and Master of Fine Arts in Photography. The programs are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges; WASC Senior College and University Commission and National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
Tuition per year:$$26,147

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

Online Bachelor in Digital Photography

Website

The Southern New Hampshire University is regarded as one of the best online schools for photography. The Bachelor in Digital Photography covers crucial areas like digital camera operation, post-production image editing, lighting, as well as refining visual literacy. Topics that are covered in this program include the business of photography, aesthetic concepts in photography and graphics and layout in print media. Taught by industry-leading faculty, courses also delve into humanities and the business aspects of professional photography which is important for those who wish to go into business. The 120-credit program is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and College.
Tuition per year:$19,200

Santa Barbara City College

Santa Barbara, California

Online Associate in Graphic Design and Photography

Website

Santa Barbara City College offers an online Associate in Graphic Design and Photography with courses that seamlessly balance design and technology. The students can work with different kinds of subjects like publication design, electronic media, photojournalism, typographic design, advertising illustration photography along with color management, among others. The programs encourage students to open their minds up the infinite possibilities of creative photography and have produced some of the best photographers in the industry over the years. The program is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Students go on to work as production coordinators, information designers, visualization designers, publications designers and freelance graphic designers.
Tuition per year:$14,861

Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art in Digital Photography

Website

Arizona State University offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art in Digital Photography which blends the core functions of a studio practice-based degree with the flexibility of online learning. The program is designed to teach students the fundamental aesthetic, conceptual and technical aspects of digital photography. Students get to focus on creative and expressive photography which fosters the development of sophisticated visual literacy. They are also encouraged to explore unique creative practices and introduce their new ideas in class. Some of the core topics in the 120-credit curriculum include Photography Now, Digital and Advanced Digital Photography, Introduction to New and Digital Media, and History of Photography among others.
Tuition per year:$$11,278

Columbus State Community College

Columbus, Ohio

Online Associate of Applied Science in Digital Photography

Website

Columbus State Community College offers several specialized degree programs including the Online Associate of Applied Science in Digital Photography. The curriculum covers a wide range of areas including creative and technical aspects of photography. Students are encouraged to cultivate their unique creative side when it comes to being a professional photographer. The online courses offer a rich foundation for students to enhance their skills. Photography programs that are offered here include Advanced Photoshop for Photographers Certificate, Basic Digital Photography Certificate, Basic Photoshop for Photographers Certificate, Business of Photography Certificate, Digital Photography Associate of Applied Science, Intermediate Digital Photography Certificate and Intermediate Photoshop for Photographers Certificate. These programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Tuition per year:$4,738

eCornell-Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Online Digital Photography Certificate Program

Website

Cornell University offers an online Digital Photography Certificate Program via its eCornell Platform. The intensive and practical program teaches students to explore and learn the fundamentals of photography along with its finer techniques that will help them become successful commercial and artistic photographers. The curriculum covers key areas of digital photography like camera selection and mechanics, lighting, digital asset management, style and expression through photography, professional photography and even touches upon areas like building a photography studio. Along with the ways to control the camera, the lighting, and the whole process, students are encouraged to innovate with techniques to get to the results they desire. The practical photographic project encourages them to demonstrate their skills and create a memorable portfolio.
Tuition:$1,499

The Photography Institute

San Francisco, California

Online Diploma in Professional Photography

Website

The Photography Institute offers a Diploma Course in Professional Photography which provides students with the knowledge and advanced skills they need for a career in professional photography. The cutting edge and comprehensive curriculum has been designed by some of the best working photographers in their field and covers all pertinent areas of photography. The online diploma program consists of 12 modules and 12 interactive assignments. One of the leading faculty members is George Seper, known to be one of the top freelance photographers today. He shares with his students not just his vast knowledge and experience in the field, but also how to apply this knowledge in the different areas of photography. The Photography Institute is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and International Accreditation and Recognition Council.
Tuition per year:$999

Stratford Career Institute

Saint Albans, Vermont

Online Photography Program

Website

Stratford Career Institute offers an online photography program that provides students with foundational yet deep knowledge and understanding of the subject. It has a career-focused curriculum that covers all the fundamental techniques associated with different styles and types of photography such as digital, portrait, film, and spontaneous shooting. Some of the topics covered in these programs include Basic Technical Concepts and Skills, Light Intensity and Distance, Light: How Images are Formed, Depth of Field & Focus, Image Stabilization, Digital and Film Cameras, Panoramic Joiners and Photomerge, Lighting Principles and Equipment, and Practical Projects for Developing Photography Skills among other topics. Students also explore the various Career Opportunities in Photography.
Tuition per year:$889

New York Institute of Photography

New York, New York

Online Photography Programs

Website

The New York Institute of Photography is known for its photography programs, both traditional and online. It is the alma mater of some of the best photographers in the world. The programs offered here are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and licensed by the New York State Education Department. The leading online photography degrees offered here include a Professional Photography Course, a Portrait Photography Course, Fundamentals of Digital Photography, a Wedding Photography Course, Photoshop for Photographers, a Photojournalism Course, Nature & Landscape Photography Course, a Travel Photography Course, a Video Making Course, Graphic Design Course, and Business for Photographers. These courses are designed to hone the talent of individual photographers around the world, who can attend these classes regardless of where they live and learn the techniques to pursue a successful career in photography.
Tuition per year:$629

What is photography?

Photography is the art and skill of capturing professional-quality images that can be used for a broad range of applications. While it is true that everyone these days can click pictures by using their mobile phones, a professional photographer has skills that a layman does not possess. They know more techniques to enhance or manipulate an image via the use of software that is not available in the regular phone apps.
They are integral to various industries, that need professional-level knowledge and expertise. For instance, they may work with an advertising agency and help in selling different kinds of products and items. The pictures in these cases work as a visual medium of communication. Along with carefully crafted messages that go with them, the images are used for optimal brand impact. Many corporates prefer to have an in-house photographer or have one on contract for their digital marketing needs.
Industries like wedding and party planning are heavily reliant on their photographers to make a difference in every project. A bride and groom may want their wedding pictures taken by a skilled professional photographer so that they can enjoy them for many years to come. Along with the regular photoshoots, they may also want unique shots for the mandatory social media posts. Other popular photography professions include fashion photography, architectural photography, photojournalism, crime-scene photography, and sports photography among others.
In an era of digital living, photography is an integral part of social sharing. The demand for photographers has increased the demand for best photography degrees online that working adults can pursue at their own pace and leisure. Leading photography colleges offer a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs that can teach students about camera and lighting, use of props, aesthetics and settings, mood photography and other critical lessons that can help a budding photographer develop his or her skills.

Advanced Digital Photography

Advanced courses are designed to help students take digital photography skills to the next level. The curricula of these programs are designed to teach both technical and aesthetic mastery so that every shot sees success. They are geared towards training individuals for professional-level photography though it is not uncommon to see passionate students enroll in such programs to pursue their hobbies. They learn which shooting or composition techniques will get the best results, and what kind of lighting will bring out the best effects on location. They are also taught advanced post-production skills like effective image correction, compositing, and retouching for outstanding prints.

Overview of Courses

Mastering the camera – The first step is to explore the advanced digital camera features beginning with an in-depth look at the applications of the latest models. Some of the core areas of focus are four methods of focusing, special-purpose automatic exposure options, when to choose light meter settings, how to stabilize a camera, and how to frame photos using different viewfinders and preview options. Capstone projects include still-life, panoramic, location, action, candid, and photos along with exercises in retouching and printing.

Composition and Artistry – Students will learn some classic approaches to photography and explore different point-of-interest and structure within their compositions. They will learn to explore and control perspectives—including angle of view, point of view, horizons, and vertical lines. Along with some tried-and-true photographer’s tricks, students also learn about the role of texture, surfaces, and lighting, in creating contrast. Students also learn to explore techniques with special photography filters for group composites, creating panoramas, and black and white shots.

Mastering the locale – Photography at locations is an integral part of the profession, be it fashion photography or for covering a war. There are specific programs that take a student through the technical and logistical challenges of the location shoot and what it means to adapt to different surroundings for work. Students learn what equipment to bring in preparation for location shots, how to store and keep the equipment safe, what special accessories are required, and also how to deal with unexpected or adverse conditions.

Post-production excellence – There are many aspects to fine post-production work, the first of which begins with the digital darkroom or Photoshop. These courses cover a range of skills like techniques for enhancing images in Camera Raw, do basic color corrections, and a guide to color correction and retouching, how to use a gray card, dramatize eyes, correct brightness and contrast, and use the Healing Brush and Patch tools along with creating high dynamic range (HDR) files. Further advanced areas include precision selections with Refine Mask and the Masks panel, applying non-destructive edits with smart objects and smart filters.

What are the career prospects of a person with a degree in photography?

There are several fields in which photographers can find work once they have completed their photography degrees online. A quick look at some of them.

Landscape photography: Landscape photographers are mainly known for clicking images of nature and landscapes such as deserts, mountains, sea beaches, cityscapes and other types of extensive landscapes. They are often hired by publications and more are known to work as freelancers and artists who showcase their work via galleries and exhibitions.

Aerial photography: Aerial photography involves taking birds’ eye view images and videos that are taken from a great height. They are mostly taken from drones, helicopters and other flying devices. They are used by various industries and government agencies as well. They are also employed by real estate companies that use them as dynamic media when they are gearing up to sell a property.

Wildlife photography: Wildlife photography involves taking pictures of wild animals and birds in their natural habitat. This is perhaps one of the most sought-after positions by passionate photographers and one that has garnered many awards over the years. Wildlife photography is as much about skill as it is about perseverance and adaptability. Photographers travel to remote locations for those once-in-a-lifetime shots that often bring home the awards.

Sports or action photography: Sports photography is the type of photography that focuses on various types of sports like hockey and football. Action photography is very similar to it and can be used for action sports and activities. Sport photographers can work for sports channels, publications, and websites. They also work with the talent agencies that manager the players where they cover both the sports and the profiles of their subjects.

Photojournalism: Journalistic photography is meant for reporting different types of news and events and often accompanies a story. Photojournalism can tell a story just by the power of the images captured, which has been proven by many Pulitzer winning journalists. It is said that an image is worth a thousand words and this is perhaps the reason why dramatic shots taken in a war zone, in famine-ridden countries, or shots that cover natural disasters have such a hard-hitting impact.

Architectural photography: Architectural photography involves artistic renditions of various buildings and structures. While most courses cover how to capture known architectural splendors, there are quite a few programs that focus on modern buildings, This is why they are also extensively used in the real estate industry along with architectural firms. Architectural photographers often work with federal and state bodies often in partnership with historical organizations. Students learn as much about exterior captures as they do about aesthetically pleasing interior photography.

Portrait photography: Portrait photography involves taking the portrait of an individual in various poses, with the help of different settings, lightings, and stylish techniques. The essence of a good portrait is to capture the true nature of the subject while representing him/her in the best light. It needs to be artistic, pleasing and thought-provoking at the same time. Portraits have been in demand for centuries and modern-day photography offers advanced renditions of this age-old phenomenon.

Wedding photography: Wedding photography involves different shots that center around a wedding event. A typical contract may span from the engagement to preparations, wedding day, reception, and all related events.

Event photography: Event photography covers different kinds of events such as a rock concert, a gala or a private event. It also includes weddings along with birthdays, bar mitzvahs, graduations and anniversaries. Event photographers are quite in demand by the corporate sector for the different kinds of company events round the year.

Fashion photography: Fashion photography deals with modeling and the fashion industry and is one of the highest demand areas with this spectrum. It has its special techniques to display designer work and profile models.

What are the career prospects for a photographer?

The average annual salary of photographers was $34,000 in 2018 and the median hourly wage was $16.35. Individuals completing a degree from one of the top photography schools online have the option to pursue a full-time career or freelance as a photographer. Competition may be stiff, and it may take time to grow into one’s career, but for the passionate and creative photographers success will not be hard to come by.

GVC Staff

February 2020

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