About This Program
The Sessions College Associate of Occupational Studies in Digital Photography is an intensive two-year online photography degree program for students seeking to enter careers as independent freelance photographers. Designed for high school graduates and adult learners, the program will offer a strong foundation in the visual language of photography and a working knowledge of the equipment, software, and production techniques essential for work in the photographic industry.
First-year classes cover fundamental concepts in photography, lighting, and image editing, as well as color and composition. Second-year classes place an emphasis on exploring a range of commercial photography assignments and finding areas of strength. A focus on real world scenarios and a training in complementary skills such as photo editing and video production ensures that students are prepared to work in a range of professional contexts.
Going to Sessions online allowed me the freedom to make my own schedule. Whether I had a job or photo shoot or needed time for family, online gave me the opportunity to do all those things while still getting my school work done.
Student Work By: James Warren, Juliana Satele, Sharon Capps
Launch your Creative Career
Earn a degree and launch your creative career in our most rigorous 2-year program.
By Creatives, for Creatives
Collaborate with a community of creative learners and industry professionals.
Maximize Your Portfolio
Projects put you through your paces as you build a body of work. Your program culminates with a guided portfolio review.
Structure and Flexibility
Weekly deadlines keep you on track, but with no set login times you can build your studies around your schedule.
Education You Can Afford
Affordable programs with low per credit tuition, and financial aid available for those who qualify.
Convenient Online Application
Fast, convenient, and student-centered application process.
Studying Online at Sessions
Founded in 1997, Sessions College has delivered accredited and affordable fully online programs for creative professionals for more than 20 years. Take a virtual college tour in this video!
The Associate of Occupational Studies Degree in Digital Photography is a 72-credit program completed in two years. Part-time schedules are available.
- DES 151 Digital Photography I - 3 credits
- DES 111 Drawing I - 3 credits
- PHO 205 Lightroom - 3 credits
- GEN 104 English Composition - 3 credits
- DES 104 Color Theory - 1.5 credits
- PHO 104 History of Photography - 1.5 credits
- DES 121 Photoshop I - 3 credits
- PHO 105 Photo Lighting and Planning - 3 credits
- GEN 105 Computer Technology - 3 credits
- PHO 204 Commercial Photography I - 3 credits
- PHO 208 Color Correction - 3 credits
- DES 222 Photoshop II - 3 credits
- GEN 207 Copywriting - 3 credits
- ADV 207 Creative Concept Development - 3 credits
- PHO 207 Commercial Photography II - 3 credits
- DIG 201 Digital Video Editing I - 3 credits
- GEN 204 Intro to Marketing - 1.5 credits
- GEN 206 Creative Businesses - 1.5 credits
- WEB 101 HTML and CSS I* - 3 credits
- PHO 214 Narrative Photography - 3 credits
- DIG 204 Digital Video Production - 3 credits
- PHO 259 Capstone Project - Digital Photography - 2 credits
- DEG 260 Portfolio Review - 1 credit
Students must complete 54 credits of Art/Design coursework and 18 credits of General Education. (DES = Design, PHO = Photography, WEB = Web, DIG = Digital Media, ILL = Illustration, DEG = Degree, GEN = General Education)
* Elective course may be replaced by any other 3-credit course in the program, subject to availability and prerequisites.
Program highlights for Photography majors in the AOS in Digital Photography program.
DES 151 Digital Photography I - 3 credits
Explore the interaction of photography techniques and environmental factors to create powerful digital images. Students learn the fundamentals of lighting, perspective, and set up and explore techniques for classic assignments: portraits, product shots, indoor and outdoor location shoots, and fast-action sports. A mastery of digital photography gives you creative control of the medium.
PHO 104 History of Photography - 1.5 credits
This course provides a historical overview of photography, from the invention of the photographic process, to the evolution of the medium, to the role of the image in contemporary art and design. You'll gain an introduction to the styles and achievements of important photographers, and be provided the tools to understand the context of their work as well as their influence on society.
PHO 105 Photo Setup - 3 credits
Focus on the planning and preparation that lead to the successful execution of a photo shoot. Develop a thorough understanding of different types of lighting, both natural and artificial. Learn the limitations and advantages of varied shooting conditions, and explore methods to effectively stage and style photographs to achieve your desired effect.
PHO 154 Landscape Photography - 3 credits
Landscape photography can be fascinating and endlessly inspiring, just like the natural world. In this course, you will explore a wide range of concepts and techniques to help you get more out of your nature photography. Each assignment will challenge you to go out and photograph the natural world, exploring compositional concepts and shooting techniques for different kinds of subjects and environments, ranging from macro and mobile to HDR and panoramic shots. To help you organize, edit, and showcase your work, the course will explore editing techniques using Adobe Lightroom. By the end of the course, you'll have created a stunning portfolio of images celebrating your favorite natural location(s).
PHO 106 Photo Retouching - 1.5 credits
Learn techniques for removing, correcting and manipulating photographic flubs or flaws using Photoshop. You will explore professional selection techniques, and how to clone, patch, and heal problem areas, and adjust colors and tones to create a seamless and professional quality product. The course examines image correction and enhancement scenarios a designer or photographer might typically encounter.
PHO 204 Commercial Photography I - 3 credits
Event photography is the primary source of business for most professional photographers. Capturing the important moments in a concert, wedding, sporting even requires planning and a mastery of equipment, lighting, and location. In this course, you'll learn practical skills for managing paid event photography shoots. Discover how to approach projects professionally and deliver the client a high quality product.
PHO 205 Lightroom - 3 credits
Learn to manage, develop, print, and present your shots efficiently with Adobe Lightroom Classic. Working with a photography pro, you'll learn how to collect and catalog your images with ease, use basic and advanced development and retouching tools to create stellar shots, and take advantage of advanced production techniques and workflows such as Smart Collections.
PHO 207 Commercial Photography II - 3 credits
Explore and practice advanced techniques for developing your skills and presence as a commercial photographer. Make images that accomplish specific objectives, with a focus on location-based event photography for weddings, night life, and fashion. Finally, you'll learn about photography products, including prints, books, and more.
PHO 208 Color Correction - 3 credits
Learn how to achieve an effective color balance in your Photoshop images and optimize them for print output. Students explore professional techniques for working with scanned, film, and digital source material, learn how to control, correct, and enhance the color palette of digital images for print media. Course projects emphasize developing a technical knowledge and an artistic understanding of color calibration for professional-quality digital imaging.
PHO 214 Narrative Photography - 3 credits
Explore the use of an editorial approach to photography in order to tell stories with images. Throughout the course you will use conceptualism in conjunction with documentary photography approaches to build photo essays and other narrative projects. Learn how to research, pitch, shoot, edit and present a body of work that encompasses unifying themes.
By completing the program, Associate Degree in Digital Photography students develop the following competencies:
Demonstrate effective and efficient use of a digital camera to create photographs applying well considered framing, exposure, composition, perspective, distance, and lighting.
Produce and present a variety of professional photographic work in a wide range of settings including portraiture, event photography, real estate, food photography, and more.
Stage and setup photoshoots by adapting for a variety of typical settings, lighting situations, and project goals.
6. Critical Thinking and Writing
Employ critical thinking to generate, support, and convey ideas through writing for academic or professional contexts.
3. Technology and Image Enhancement
Apply and demonstrate retouching and color correction techniques to improve or enhance photographic images to a professional level utilizing software including Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and other industry technologies.
Apply creative problem solving and constructive feedback to conceive, produce, and present an impactful body of work that showcases your skills to employers and potential clients.
4. Art/Design Principles
Demonstrate the ability to produce visually compelling work by applying knowledge of color, pattern, details, and composition.
To learn more about our outcomes assessment process, visit our Academic Team.
Sessions Student Work
VIEW ALL PROGRAM FACULTY
Get expert feedback in classes taught by our industry-leading faculty.
Andrew Shalat is an author, designer/illustrator, educator, and Mac expert who is a regular speaker at Macworld and has written several books on design for McGraw-Hill and Peachpit Press.
Carolyn Zaikowski is the author of the novel A Child Is Being Killed (Aqueous Books, 2013) whose fiction, poetry, and essays have been published widely.
Felicia Kieselhorst is freelance photographer with her own business based in Oakland, CA. Felicia specializes in wedding and product photography, and works in digital and film photography, using primarily Nikon, Hasselblad, and an array of toy cameras.
Kevin Hedgpeth is an Arizona native who makes his home in Phoenix, where he actively writes and illustrates in addition to teaching college-level visual arts courses. He is co-author and illustrator of several published books.
Kristen Becker is an educator and a graphic and business designer specializing in e-commerce. With over 12 years of experience as an award-winning educator, Kristen has developed curriculum and taught courses in graphic design, multimedia, and e-commerce/marketing.
Natalie La Scala is a Denver-based media artist with 20 years of work experience in creative direction, project management, and higher education. Recent clients include Z1CareerZone, Engage, LLC, and the Performing Arts Academy.
Piper Nilsson is a graphic/Web designer and educator. Piper has been working with the Web since 1997, working in various roles as a designer, programmer, and information architect, Piper blueprinted sites for such global clients as MetLife, Pepsi, ETS, and Citibank.
Dr. Taz Tally is the president of Taz Tally Seminars and Taz Tally Photography and author of numerous graphics and print production books and instructional videos, CDs, DVDs and online training courses on scanning, prepress and printing, Photoshop, and color correction.
View all faculty.
An associate degree in photography can help you begin your career in the field. You can take that first step today. Here are some job statistics to consider:
Facts are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. For more information about photography careers and the community visit: National Press Photographers Association, American Society of Media Photographers, or American Photographic Artists.
Average Income for photographers in printing and related support activities in May 2017 was $63,950 a year.
7 in 10
About 7 in 10 Photographers were self-employed in 2016.
Our online application process makes getting started easy, fast, and convenient.
What's the Admissions Process?
Classes start in January, April, and August, with early start options in February, June, and October.
Students entering the program are expected to have earned a high school diploma, GED, or state-approved home school equivalent. Any students under 18 years of age will need to provide the signed permission of a parent or guardian.
To apply, you’ll need to complete our convenient online application and provide an application essay, official transcripts from high school OR for any college degree completed, and 5-10 samples of your art/design work. (Transcripts must be provided for any course you wish evaluated for credit transfer.)
How Long is the Program?
The Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) program is a 72 credit program completed in six semesters or two years by a student on a full-time schedule. Students with transfer credit can graduate in under two years and part-time schedules are available.
Will the Program Fit My Schedule?
Weekly deadlines help you stay on track. And with no set login times, you can build your studies around your schedule, wherever you are located. That’s why more than 50% of our degree students complete their programs while working full-time.
What Software or Supplies Do I Need?
To take this program, you’ll need the following:
- Mac or Windows computer with an Internet connection.
- A digital camera that offers manual control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance .
- A digital video camera and ability to connect it to a computer to capture footage.
- Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere CC software.
- Your computer must meet software manufacturer requirements.
- Webcam, headphones or speaker, VPN connection, and microphone connected to the computer for live proctored exams.
There are no textbook or course material costs to participate in this online program. Student discount on Adobe Creative Cloud software is available to enrolled students.
What are the Program Costs?
Effective July 1, 2021, the tuition for full-time Associate Degree students is as follows:
|Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Program|
|$510 per credit|
|$6,120 per semester|
|$18,360 per calendar year|
|$36,720 total program tuition|
Per-credit tuition for part-time students is the same as for full-time students. Federal financial aid available for eligible students. Ask about our $500-$2,000 scholarships for exemplary applicants.
A $200 registration fee is required to process your enrollment in the program. Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from the scheduled beginning of program orientation. See .
Is Financial Aid available?
Federal Student Aid. Federal student aid is available to students who qualify. If you are eligible, you may be able to fund your program using Pell Grants and Federal student loans. Check out our Financial Aid Information pages and ask to set up an interview with our Financial Aid Director.
Military Student Aid. Military servicemembers and their families who are eligible for GI Bill Education Benefits or active service member Tuition Assistance (TA) may also be able to utilize these programs to pay for their education.
Adult Learner Scholarships. Ask about our innovative scholarships for adult learners. The Designed for You Scholarship Program can help you offset your tuition costs.
Get Started Today
Take the first step on a rewarding creative journey towards earning an Associate Degree in Digital Photography.