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Estimated Completion Time

1 segment/ 18 weeks


In today’s world, photographs are all around us, including in advertisements, on websites, and hung on our walls as art. Many of the images that we see have been created by professional photographers. In this course, we will examine various aspects of professional photography, including the ethics of the profession, and examine some of the areas that professional photographers may choose to specialize in, such as wedding photography and product photography. We will also learn more about some of the most respected professional photographers in history and we will learn how to critique photographs in order to better understand what creates an eye-catching photograph.

The course material may be completed with a point-and-shoot camera or a camera on a cell phone. A point-and-shoot camera is preferable, as some techniques discussed utilize features that require an additional app on the cell phone. Instructors will work with students to help find the appropriate app for the camera phone or modify the assignment as needed.

This course is one of our Career Exploration offerings. During this course, you will learn career-related skills and earn a badge for this accomplishment. A badge is a digital certification of your career-related learning that you can share on social media and higher education platforms, or with colleges, potential employers, peers, and colleagues. Select this link to learn more about badges.

Course Requirements

Digital camera: “point and shoot” or above

*A Smartphone may be used for most required tasks; however, appropriate applications will need to be installed to allow the student to make the necessary adjustments to the camera mode, shutter speed, and aperture.

Major Topics and Concepts

Unit 1: Photography as a Career

  • Discuss professional photography and what this career is like
  • Discuss the different types of professional photography
  • Examine some of the steps to becoming a professional photographer
  • Investigate the job outlook for professional photographers
  • Understand what professional photographers do as part of their jobs

Unit 2: Legal and Ethical Concerns

  • Discuss the rights that photographers have to take photographs, including how this is impacted by the First Amendment in the United States
  • Understand copyright and how it can affect professional photographers
  • Examine the differences between personal, editorial, and commercial uses of a photograph
  • Discuss several different types of photograph licenses for commercial use
  • Understand model releases and why they are used

Unit 3: Photographers and Critiques

  • Talk about some of the most well-known professional photographers
  • Discuss the influence of these photographers on the practice and field of photography
  • Discuss how to critique photographs
  • Realize the benefits of photograph critiques
  • Understand why photography critiques are subjective in nature

Unit 4: Photography Software

  • Discuss some of the common photo imaging software choices available today
  • Understand the basic guidelines for using photo imaging software
  • Talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages to using photography software
  • Discuss the common features and tools in image editing software
  • Show an understanding of the modern digital darkroom.

Unit 5: The Darkroom

  • Discuss the use of darkrooms and their advantages for photographers
  • Talk about the history of film and film development
  • Describe how film is developed into negatives
  • Understand how a negative is used to create an image print
  • Discuss darkroom safety and potential risks

Unit 6: Art, Product and Stock Photography

  • Discuss fine art photography and its connections to both fine art and other types of photography
  • Describe some of the techniques used to present and display photographs
  • Discuss the area of product photography
  • Understand more about the area of stock photography and microstock photography
  • Discuss the tips and techniques for stock and microstock photography.

Unit 7: Photojournalism

  • Describe photojournalism and how it relates to journalism
  • Discuss why individuals become photojournalists
  • Describe the common types of photographic shots that photojournalists use
  • Understand how to catch the perfect candid shot of news stories
  • Discuss the responsibilities of photojournalists.

Unit 8: Wedding Photography

  • Discuss the business aspect of wedding photography
  • Describe what it takes to be a good wedding photographer
  • Understand the two types of wedding photography
  • Talk about some of the actions needed to prepare to photograph a wedding
  • Discuss some aspects of photographing the wedding and reception

Credits .5

Competency Group Overview

Meets art or ICT graduation requirement


  • Professional Photography
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of professional photography by comparing careers in photography and creating career-specific photographs.
  • The Photographer's Rights
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the photographer’s rights by explaining digital photography copyright and summarizing ethical photography practices.
  • Photo Critiques
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of photo critiques by summarizing the critique process of photos and evaluating the works of famous photographers.
  • Photography Software
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of photography software by evaluating photo editing software and summarizing photo editing techniques.
  • Darkroom
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the darkroom by explaining the film developing process and summarizing darkroom safety.
  • Types of Photography
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of types of photography by describing stock photography, analyzing fine art photography and explaining product photography.
  • Photojournalism
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of photojournalism by summarizing the role of a photojournalist and creating photojournalistic images.
  • Wedding Photography
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of wedding photography by summarizing wedding photography techniques and creating simulated wedding photographs.


Access to a camera is required. A point and shoot camera/DSLR camera is required. Digital Photo 1 is recommended but not required.

Attend a virtual open house

We offer regular online open house webinars where VLACS staff members provide parents and students with an overview of our programs and answer questions about online learning.