Course Lists

Photography Course List

PH 201 Silver & Ink: Intro to Photo

This course introduces the fundamental techniques and aesthetic vision of photography, from traditional analogue roots to contemporary digital skills. Students learn to operate SLR-style cameras for proper exposure, using both film and digital capture methods, and learn appropriate workflows to transform film negatives into fine-prints in a traditional darkroom, as well as to edit and output archival inkjet prints in our digital print studio. The course includes demonstrations, lab work, readings, field assignments, and critiques. Students may work with their own cameras or check-out cameras through the department.

PH 232 Black & White Film Photo I

This course introduces the fundamentals of photographic practice. Emphasis is placed on the exposure, development of black and white film, and the silver print as well as the aesthetics of photographic vision. The format includes class demonstrations, lab work, field assignments and critiques.

PH 262 Digital Photography I

An introductory level course that explores the conceptual and practical principles of digital photography through lectures, readings, hands-on assignments, and field trips. Discussion topics focus on camera operation, file formats, the impact of digital technology on contemporary photographic practice, as well as the aesthetic and ethical issues surrounding it. Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and other software applications are used to explore creative and experimental possibilities for processing and manipulating photographs. Studio work emphasizes printed, still imagery, but students are encouraged to devise new uses for their digital materials. Introduction to input and output peripherals will include digital cameras, scanners, and printers.

PH 323 Narrative Composite & Collage

The photographic medium has a long history with observational truth, but in the 21st century, this is counterbalanced against the technological speed and potency of constructed and composited images. In this course, students will look at the deep history of photographic manipulation while creating new narrative imagery using advanced digital compositing, studio lighting, and special optical techniques. The course also consider the role of composite imagery in art, editorial and advertising, illuminating the functions of photo-based illustrations in contemporary society.

Prerequisite: PH 201, or permission of instructor

PH 325 Photojournalism

This course is an introduction to photojournalism, in its many contemporary forms. Students explore street photography, news reporting, editorial assignments, long-form visual essays, and creating content for digital media, including commissioned and self-directed projects. Attention is paid to the complex relationship between creative expression and objectivity in documentation. Journalistic standards and ethical responsibilities to both subjects and viewers are core themes for discussion. Topics also include working with video; narrative storytelling; collaboration with writers and editors; and relevant professional practices. Students learn through regular assignments, editing, and critiques; as well as readings, independent research, and conversations with visiting professionals.

Prerequisite: PH 201, FILM 200, or permission of instructor

PH 332 BW2: Reimagining the Darkroom

This course expands the student’s knowledge of black and white film photography and explores the photographers reach beyond the darkroom. What opportunities become available that do not exist in the approach and qualities of digital imagery? How do you employ light, chemistry and the emulsion in your practice? Students work with small, medium, and large format cameras towards greater control of the negative and fine silver print, and also explore the extended image and camera-less photography. Course time consist of lectures, demonstrations, work days, individual and deep emphasis on group critiques. it is of paramount importance that students ideas and personal vision take center stage moving forward through the course.

Prerequisite: PH 201

PH 335 Studio & Location Lighting

This course focuses on developing an awareness of light and learning to translate that observation into photographs made with artificial light sources. Working both in an indoor studio environment and on location, students learn how to manipulate lighting using photographic strobe and the multitude of related equipment they may encounter in a professional photography studio, while practicing the etiquette, professionalism and teamwork expected in these real world settings.

Prerequisite: PH 201

PH 343 Environmentally Engaged Photo

This course immerses students in ideas and practices that consider the landscape and how humans inhabit it. Students explore their engagement with the earth in a multitude of ways, including physical, social, political, conceptual, and aesthetic, before turning their attention to photography’s role as a tool for environmental and social justice.

PH 345 Contemporary Directions

Surveys contemporary fine art photography from 1950 to the present. Course material is organized thematically around ideas of changing imaging technologies, mapping, surveillance, voyeurism, identity and culture, social justice, community engagement, participatory culture, self-referential media, and other pertinent topics. Students respond to slide lectures with research presentations, written responses, group discussions, and visual projects for deeper analysis of the state of the medium and the possible futures it suggests. Students are strongly encouraged to take this course during their sophomore year.

Prerequisite: PH 201

PH 349 Social Documentary Photography

Students photograph, research, and investigate documentary subjects of their own choice to engage in the problems of photographic production and seeing. They analyze and discuss the work of a diverse group of photographic artists, starting with Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and the Farm Security Administration to contemporary photographers such as Doug Dubois, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Gregory Halpern, Deana Lawson, Sally Mann, and Zoe Strauss. Documentary, photojournalism, and ethics are examined. Students may work digitally, with film, or a combination of the two.

Prerequisite: PH 201

PH 354 Photographic Book

Binding photographs and text together is a highly conceptual and hands-on act. The sequence of imagery, as well as the physical form of how they are contained is crucial to the final perception of the work. This course introduces students to a variety of handmade book structures that are integrated with digital printing methods and thoughtful design in order to create unique, and often experimental, photographic books.

Prerequisite: PH 201

PH 355 The Body in Photography

From photography’s inception to the present moment, the body has captivated, repelled, and engaged us. From the rarified to the sensual, the erotic to the embattled, the body in photography continues to intrigue. This course is designed to keep the human form at its center, with all openness to explore the many tributaries that flow from this subject. Students are encouraged to think broadly about the figure, and to consider how the long tradition of photographing the nude has shifted in the 21st century. Students respond to specific assignments, readings, and exhibitions. The latter part of the semester consists of a self-initiated project and the production of a portfolio of work based on a personal interpretation of issues surrounding the human figure in photography.

Prerequisite: PH 332, or permission of instructor

PH 363 Dig2: Materials and Methods

A critical seminar expanding the conceptual and material use of digital tools for artistic practices. Students build workflow fluency between Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, develop color management competency, and refine compositing skills. The course emphasizes digital output on a variety of materials and substrates, exploring expressive properties of physical media through fine art inkjet prints, experimental inkjet media, and artist book forms.

Prerequisite: PH 201

PH 371 Professional Strategies Photo

This course explores pre- and post-graduation strategies and professional skills for photographers. Discussions include setting goals, time management, ethics, web presence, social media skills, grants and fellowships, artist residencies, networking and conferences, applying to internships and jobs, portfolio review events, and exhibiting in galleries, museums, and alternative spaces. Freelance business skills, such as quoting jobs, negotiating, copyright, licensing, pricing structures, invoicing, and tax responsibilities are also discussed. The course includes lectures, practical exercises, packet-building, guest speakers, field trips, and attendance at Career Development workshops. In addition to other coursework, each student completes a branded website and submit applications for external opportunities.

Juniors and Seniors only

PH 373 Picturing the Third Dimension

Explore the inherent dimensionality of the photograph, from the physical presence of the print to the expanding relationship between photography and the sculptural form. The photograph, which purports to transmute reality into a fixed 2D realm, can distort, complicate, and tease constructed materials and environments (both physical and digital) to great effect. Similarly, the photograph can quickly become a 3D object with the act of folding a printed image in half. Through a series of assignments, aimed at establishing the technical and critical means by which to investigate what constitutes a photograph, students make work and pose questions that probe the ever-shifting boundaries of the post-Internet image.

Prerequisite: PH 201

PH 375 Narrative Strategies

It is said that a photograph wears the aspect of fact but says nothing. This ambiguity has not prevented photographs from being use to construct visual stories such as the classic picture essay. This course explores how editing and sequencing create relationships between images. The role of text and the use of allegory in contemporary photographic practice are also considered.

Prerequisite: PH 201

PH 386 Alchemy of Light

This course introduces students to historical techniques in photography and consider how these approaches can augment contemporary vision. Students explore the concept of light and time as they work with the properties of hand-coated emulsions. Students work in digital and analogue spaces and develop a command of the cyanotype and van dyke processes with an introduction to palladium, cliché verre and lumens print. Working with camera-less and pinhole photography, as well as film and digital negative output, students gain a broader understanding of experimental possibilities of image making.

Prerequisite: PH 332

PH 390 Junior Seminar

With faculty mentorship, students formulate, propose, research, and pursue a body of personal photographic work. In doing so, each student tests and iterates new concepts, raise questions, decipher problems, and invents new possibilities in their artistic practice. Emphasis is placed on building a context for one’s practice and making informed choices in the presentation of visual output. Course time consists of group discussions, research presentations, artist statement workshops, and critique. Final coursework is prepared and exhibited the following semester in a group exhibition.

Junior Photography majors only, or permission of instructor

PH 394 Palladium Printing

Palladium printing is a 19th century photographic process that yields an archival print with a long and rich tonal range. In this course, students use large format negatives and an ultraviolet light source to produce a final image of pure palladium. With focus on making the appropriate negative, the subtleties of hand-coated emulsion and the importance of paper choice. Since this is a contact process, knowledge of large format enhances the students experience, however enlarging techniques for 35mm negatives is covered as well.

Prerequisite: PH 386, or permission of instructor

PH 399 Special Topics in Photography

The learning objectives of this course are geared toward a specific topic of current interest generally not covered in other courses offered by the department. These courses, typically not offered continuously in the department, provide students and faculty the opportunity to explore new content and course formats. The specific topic is announced in the course schedule.

PH 405 Moving Photographs

Since its inception, photography has been defined by its relationship to movement. This course dives directly into the complex relationship between stillness and motion, and the creative possibilities that flourish in the tension between these states. Students explore precedents in fine art and cinema, and learn to look and listen closely to the rhythms of daily life around them. Projects probe a diverse range of subjects, media, and methods for depicting and manipulating time. Using varied digital cameras and software, students experiment with sequencing, time lapse, slow motion, image mapping, sound, suspense, surprise, and minimalist narrative structures.

Prerequisite: FF 140

PH 430 Advanced Digital Printing

The print is often the powerful final stage of a photographic work, where an artist's vision is presented to a viewer in what should be its ideal form. Digital printmaking is unfortunately regarded as a lifeless process of sending a file to a machine, while in reality it is a highly thoughtful and interactive process for the artist. This course engages students in the rigorous act of advanced printing and Photoshop methodology, teaching them to create highly refined prints on a range of paper and fabric media, while also exploring the enormous creative potential using experimental pigment transfer and manipulation techniques.

Prerequisite: PH 363

PH 480 Endowed Chair Seminar

The Stuart B. Cooper Endowed Chair in Photography is an annual appointment that brings a distinguished visitor to the department. This course is built on themes in the current Endowed Chair’s practice and uses that exploration as a departure point for individual student projects related to those themes. Coursework includes thematic lectures, group discussions, individual and group critiques, and culminates in a self-directed body of work by each student. A MICA faculty choreographs the classroom experience, with regular engagement with the Endowed Chair.

PH 490 Senior Thesis Project

In addition to creating a major thesis project, students write an accompanying proposal and artist’s statement. Students research avenues of professional practice. Students meet with visiting artists and critics in preparation for final critique with an external reviewer and senior thesis coordinators.

Prerequisite: PH 390 and Senior Photography majors only