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Frequently Asked Questions for Photo Students


Q: I'm just starting the program and I've never had any formal education in photography before. How should I begin?

A: There are two introductory courses in our program: ARTS2356 Photography I/Darkroom (Film) and ARTS2348 Digital Photography I (Digital). These courses deal with camera operation, composition, workflow, photographic traditions and contemporary issues in imaging. They both have a 5 hour per week blend of lab and lecture where you produce art work in class with instructor supervision.



Q: What if I only want to learn digital photography (or) What if I only want to learn film photography? Do I still have to take the darkroom (or) computer course?

A: Students simply wanting to learn the basics of one aspect of the medium are welcome to take the entry-level courses that meet their needs and stop. If further, intermediate or advanced-level study is desired, however, both of the introductory courses are important. This is because we believe that, for any serious photographer, particularly one with fine art aspirations, knowing the basics of both the chemical and digital aspects of the medium is critical.

Beyond the first semester, though, students may use their choice of film or digital cameras to complete most of the assignments in most of the program's courses.


Q: What kind of camera do I need? What else do I need to supply?

A: Students in most photography courses are required to supply their own camera, but the department can provide a 35mm format film camera for students enrolled in ARTS2356 Photography I/Darkroom.

Film cameras must use 35mm format film and be capable of manual exposure control. Three 35mm cameras that we currently recommend are the Nikon FM-10, the Pentax ZX-M and the Ricoh KR5 Super II. Each of these are good, basic cameras that can be operated in a fully manual mode. Other cameras similar to these exist and, if the camera can be operated in a fully manual fashion, it will be fine for the course.

Digital cameras should be able to capture at least 5 Megapixels, be capable of manual exposure control and must be able to shoot a "RAW" file.

Digital cameras that we currently recommend are the Digital Rebel XT or XTi and any of the higher level Canon SLR's, the Nikon D40, 50, 70, 80 and 200 SLR's as we have check-out accessories for these two brands. There are a number of other excellent manufacturers available that will work fine as long as they meet the above criteria.

As for other supplies, students are responsible for providing film, printing paper, camera/computer recordables and a few incidentals like scissors. The Photography Program supplies all chemicals, ink and specialized equipment.



Q: I've been involved in photography for (fill in the blank) years and I'm wondering if I have to take the beginning course(s) (ARTS2356 and ARTS2348)?

A: The answer is, "It depends". It depends on whether you have basic camera skills and, more importantly, basic darkroom and/or computer skills. There is also an "acclimation" to the medium that provides an aesthetic grounding essential to advanced courses.

Any course past the introductory level courses presumes that you have the ability to understand aperture, shutter speed, composition, focal length, depth of field and other basic camera concepts as well as what is a "good photograph".

Passing by the ARTS2348 course would suggest that you also have a grasp of Adobe Photoshop and general image to print "work flow" concepts.

Passing by the ARTS2356 course presumes that you can process and print black and white photographs in the chemical darkroom with little to no review. You should have a solid background in black and white darkroom techniques and be able to produce a high-quality print.

If you have these skills and aesthetic sophistication, then you may want to bypass these entry-level courses. Most students, however, are happiest when they go ahead and take one or both of the foundation courses, even if much of it is a review. It is our experience that nearly all students should start with the entry-level classes.



Q: I have the basic camera, darkroom and computer skills that are mentioned above; what course should I take next?

A: You should start with ARTS2357 Photography II/Darkroom (Intermediate film course with medium and large format) or ARTS2349 Digital Photography II (Intermediate Photoshop course with professional workflow).



Q: I want to take courses only on nights and weekends. Can I get a degree or certificate this way, or am I going to have to take day classes?

A: All of the courses that the Photography Program offers are taught both day and evening. Advanced courses with fewer sections are less prevalent and may require some schedule adjustments. While most of our courses are offered during the week, a few of them are taught on weekends. Check the current Semester Course Schedule for a list of what weekend courses are available for a given semester.



Q: I don't want to take a class, but I'd like to use your darkroom or computer facilities. Is there a fee that I can pay? Can I rent your darkrooms or studios?

A: Our labs and studios are for the express use of students who are currently registered in a Photography Program class. They are not available for rental at any time. If you want to use the facilities, you must take a credit class. Continuing Education courses are not offered in our facilities.



Q: Prerequisites: Are they really required?

A: The courses that have prerequisites have them for a reason. The instructor expects that all students who enter the classroom have an understanding of the prerequisite materials. Some courses are impossible without proper grounding in foundation skills. If you strongly feel that you have these skills and have not been through college/university level courses, you must see the department chair for evaluation.



Q: Can I take several photography courses in one semester?

A: Photography courses are very time consuming. It is strongly recommended that students only take one photography course per semester. Only advanced students may consider taking two courses per semester. Students are strongly discouraged from taking more than two courses per semester.