About the FdA Photography programme
Photography is an exciting, historically important and culturally significant medium. Our FdA Photography programme is designed to appeal to anyone with an enthusiasm for photography. The course aims to balance study of commercial photography with an exploration of the broader importance of photography in documenting the world around us – and its significance as a form of personal expression – in non-commercial genres such as documentary, fine art or street photography.
The course thus balances a consideration of the commercial potential of photography with the important role photography plays as a means of personal and cultural expression. Whilst the commercial element within photographic practice is undeniably important, the medium’s potential to document and explore society, and to allow individuals to express themselves creatively, is equally important – and since its origins, the history of photography has been dominated by this tension between the industrial / commercial and corporate application of photographic practice and extension of photographic practice by vernacular, documentary and fine art forms and practitioners. The degree will provide you with experience of working in commercial genres such as advertising and industrial photography, whilst also giving you the opportunity to explore the worlds of fine art, street and documentary photography. In addition, you will have the opportunity of studying the history of photography, and examining the work of important and contemporary photographers.
The degree is welcoming to people from all backgrounds, both traditional progressors and those returning to education as mature students. Entrants onto our degree level photography provision have in the past come from many different backgrounds: you may simply be an enthusiastic amateur, or you may already work as a photographer. However, regardless of your background, whether you are intending on pursuing a career within commercial photography, establishing your own business or seeking work as a freelancer, our course aims to build on your enthusiasm for the subject, giving you confidence in your abilities whilst providing you with the knowledge and skills necessary to practice or study photography at a higher level.
During your time on the course, you will be given the opportunity of working with both analogue (film-based) and digital formats, and you will be able to practise using our equipment – including our studio and darkroom facilities. During your second year, you will be asked to design, plan and produce your own extended independent project, which you will self-publish, giving you something which can be used to help market yourself as a photographer upon completing the degree.
Applicants will require 80 UCAS points. However, in line with the widening participation brief and lifelong learning strategy, the Institute will also encourage applications from non-traditional learners who lack formal academic qualifications. All such non-traditional applicants will be interviewed, given a short-term photography-related exercise to complete and asked to submit a short essay; these tasks are intended to assess the applicant’s abilities both technically and academically. The submitted work will be judged, taking into account the applicant’s academic potential and relevant experience.
What you will learn
Year 1 (Level 4) Certificate Stage
- Photography Skills and Studio Skills
- Understanding Photographs
- Digital Workflow Systems
- Reportage: Photojournalism and Press Photography
- The History of Photography
- Study Skills and Employability
You will be introduced to the core skills and key concepts whilst allowing you the freedom to find your own approach within whatever types of photography interest you. You will be introduced to equipment and given the opportunity to practice using is. In turn you will be provided with a comprehension of how photographs ‘work’ in communicating meaning to their audiences. You will learn how to use modern professional software to manage, manipulate and archive photographs. Alongside all of the subject specific skills you will be introduced to the skills you need to succeed in your academic studies whilst also reflecting on some of the context in which photographers work.
Year 2 (Level 5) Foundation Stage
- Advertising and Industrial Photography
- The Camera as Storyteller: Documentary and Street Photography
- Authorship in Photography
- Simulating a Commercial Context: Working to a Live Brief
- Critical and Conceptual Practice: Self-directed Project
- Representation and Audience
These modules are designed to provide you with a balance of practising photography within commercial genres against exploring the potential for non-commercial genres to extend the boundaries of photography.
Learning & Teaching Methods
Delivery will be predominantly via seminars and workshops intended to provide you with a space in which the practice your photography skills and comprehension of issues, with some lectures designed to introduce new concepts. Some modules will require you to complete learning tasks in your own time, outside of scheduled classes. In the second year of study, you will be expected to display an increasing sense of ownership over your own work, culminating in a project which is entirely of your own devising and utterly self-directed.
Assessment on the programme will be via the production of both individual photographs and sequences of images, including photo essays. Some modules will expect you to work towards a simulated ‘live brief’. Other modules will give you the freedom to select your own topic or issue and produce work which you will then be required to self-publish and submit in the form of a book. Alongside these methods of assessment, you will be asked to complete traditional academic assessments in the form of essays, both short- and long-form.
The Institute therefore has both a committed and experienced course team and the resources needed to deliver the course successfully. The new FdA in Photography provides students with experience of working in a variety of genres of photography, both commercial and non-commercial, whilst building confidence with equipment and key concepts. The programme is designed to appeal equally to students interested in pursuing a career in commercial photography and those who are interested in photography as a means of cultural and personal expression, or who would like to practice documentary or fine art photography. Upon completion of the independent project in the second year of the course, you will have self-published your work and will therefore have something with which to market your skills as a photographer when you graduate from the programme.
Upon completion of the degree, you may progress on to a Level 6 ‘top-up’ programme giving you a degree in photography. From here, you may continue on to studying photography at postgraduate level, or progress on to a teaching qualification such as a PGCE.
Alternatively, you may leave the programme and seek work as a commercial photographer, working in the employ of a company or as a freelancer. You may also wish to set up your own business, working directly with clients as a portrait, wedding or events photographer, or you may seek work as a photojournalist.
You may continue to practise your photography as a fine art or documentary photographer, distributing your work via galleries or publications.