At Photo Center NW
is rewarded for students seeking structured education in photography.
The Certificate Program is a 53-credit program in fine art photography. Photo Center NW is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Courses are technically and creatively demanding, and the program provides instruction on par with post-baccalaureate programs in photography. During their studies, students develop their own style of photography and grow in ability to understand, appreciate, produce and critique photographic works.
Certificate students gain a solid education in the fundamentals of photography through the Photo I-III sequence, digital imaging, color and light control classes. There are required classes in history, business and project development, and advanced students customize their education, pursuing advanced seminars and topic classes that align with their own style and vision.
Students refine their ability to create a body of work in the Junior and Senior Seminars and in the capstone course, Thesis, which is a year-long course. During their Thesis year students meet with faculty advisers and develop a body of work for exhibition. After defending their work before a committee Certificate students participate in the annual thesis exhibition at the Photo Center gallery.
Applications to the program are accepted year-round; many students take several courses or a sequence of courses before deciding to apply to the program. Students with formal education elsewhere may request credit transfer. Students who have learned through experience may ask to waive prerequisites and then take additional electives to complete the program. Most of our students work full-time and take evening classes; many are educated in other disciplines. Students considering the Certificate Program are strongly advised to enroll in the program before reaching 22 credits toward completion of requirements. Certificate students are governed by the credit and course requirements of the quarter in which they apply. Download an application.
Advising / Admissions
For more information or to set an advising/admissions appointment, contact Jennifer Brendicke, Program Associate, or Ashley Siple, Director of Education. An outline of the estimated cost to complete the Certificate Program is available on the Academic Policies for Certificate Students page. Scholarship information can be found on the Students page.
(as of August 2011)
|Photography III||2x annually||3|
|Digital Imaging I: Photoshop Fundamentals||quarterly||3|
|Fine Art Printing||2x annually||3|
|History of Photography||annually||3|
|Junior Seminar: Portfolio Project||annually||3|
|Business of Photography||annually||2|
|Senior Seminar: Theory & Practice||annually||3|
|Advanced Seminars / Electives||quarterly||9-12|
|Thesis||begins fall of each academic year||9|
Both Photo I courses are designed for those who have little or no previous experience in photography and there are no prerequisites. Photography I: B&W is an introduction to traditional analog darkroom processes and manual camera operation. Students gain a basic understanding of black and white photography through exercises and assignments that emphasize fundamental camera and darkroom skills. The course introduces concepts of composition, emphasizes personal expression alongside technical development, and covers an introduction to history and philosophy of photography. This is a required course for all students in the Certificate Program.
Photography I: Digital is an introduction to creative and technical process of photography though digital media. The course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of photography through exercises and weekly assignments using a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. Class sessions include critiques, lecture, in class hands-on exercises, and the review of weekly shooting assignments. Critiques acquaint students with the language of photography and the basic critical skills for conceptualizing, creating, viewing and discussing photographic images. Photo I: Digital is not required for all students in the Certificate Program, but it is a prerequisite for Photo II: Digital.
Photography II (may be taken as B&W or Digital)
The focus of Photography II: B&W is an expansion of the technical skills and a deeper understanding of the aesthetic principles guiding personal work. Emphasis will be on applying sophisticated technical knowledge gained through film/developer/exposure tests to students’ personal creative vision. Through exercises, material tests, and assignments, students gain a greater control over variable materials (fiber paper, developers, films) and creative development is encouraged through class critiques of personal projects. Editing for a series, presentation methods and options, as well as professional workflow are also key components of this requirement. Students in the Certificate Program may opt to take Photo II with either a Digital or Analog (B&W) focus.
Prerequisites: Photography I: Black & White
Photography II: Digital challenges students to explore advanced digital photography techniques while learning workflow process for making visually sophisticated fine art photographs. Students learn techniques that parallel digital camera and computer workflow such as advanced frame division, crop and frame-ratio; RAW conversion; custom white balance; basic Photoshop adjustments for workflow, composite, retouching, image formatting and output; on-camera flash and external lighting; printing and archiving. Students are exposed to concepts of image/artistic construction: images containing hierarchies of subject-matter, advanced visual language to establish points of contention or dynamic tension in the image, and context, symbolic, metaphoric or narrative language. Students in the Certificate Program may opt to take Photo II with either a Digital or Analog (B&W) focus.
Prerequisites: Photography I: Digital
Building on Photo I and II courses, Photography III is a project and critique driven course aimed at students who have completed at least two photography courses in either black and white or digital. Assignments in this course are designed to allow students maximum latitude in their choice of medium, style, or subject while focusing their work on a single project for the quarter. In this course, students refine their technical knowledge and develop new conceptual strategies for creating their work. Research, critiques and project development are integral components of the class. This is a required course for the Certificate Program and it is recommended that students take Photo I, II, III in sequence.
Prerequisites: Photography II
Digital Imaging I: Photoshop Fundamentals
Digital Imaging I is a survey of Adobe Photoshop CS5 for photographers. As an introductory course, Digital Imaging I covers concepts like: basic navigation, layers and masks, channels, adjustment layers, how to make global and local adjustments, Camera RAW, and basic digital workflow. An introduction to printing is also a component of this course. This course is a prerequisite for Fine Art Digital Printing and Color.
Fine Art Printing
Both Fine Art Digital Printing and Fine Art Silver Printing courses are designed for students who are printing towards projects or portfolios. Fine Art Printing courses cover digital and analog techniques for making global and local adjustments in the image, enhancing or adjusting contrast, and proofing photographs for print. Students completing this course will be well-prepared for producing final projects and exhibition quality images.
Prerequisites: Digital Imaging I (for Digital Printing) or Photo II B&W (for Silver Printing)
Recommended for Digital Printing: Photography II: Digital
Recommended for Silver Printing: any Zone class
History of Photography
This seminar will focus on significant people, events, and subjects in the development of photography. Through class discussions and readings, students will analyze and compare the works of a variety of artists and practitioners, examine how historical events have impacted photographic practice, and explore the relationship between photography and the fine art world. Visits to important photographic collections in the Seattle area, as well as local galleries, will form a part of this class. This course has no prerequisites, and can be taken concurrently with other courses in the Certificate Program.
The color photography course is an intermediate course that covers film and digital concerns relating to: digital capture, color film, color management, scanning, and advanced editing for color print output. This course is a prerequisite for Light Control.
Prerequisites: Any Photo II class
Recommended: Digital Imaging I
The course serves as an introduction to lighting beginning with natural light and moving into more complex studio lighting, mixed lighting, and on location scenarios. The class will cover the nature of light and how different surfaces transmit, absorb, and reflect it. Studio flash and tungsten lighting, as well as location lighting and on-camera flash will all be covered. This is a intermediate class that assumes a Photo II level of proficiency in camera operation and knowledge of color, although prior experience with studio lights is not required.
Prerequisites: Color or Photography II: Digital
The Junior Seminar is an advanced level course for students learning to develop a long-term photographic project. While emphasizing independent work, the course supports students in their ability to edit their work, see connections and parallels in contemporary practice, and confront artistic challenges. Engaging these topics and ideas, students will also gain confidence writing and speaking about their work. Aspects of professional artistic practice and project development are key components of this course.
Prerequisites: Photography I-III
Business of Photography
This course is an initial introduction to the concerns and challenges of a career in the photographic arts: gain an overview of the current landscape for artists working today, learn about essential resources like legal advice, funding opportunities, and new tools for promoting your work. Participate in peer-evaluation and receive insights from a working artist. This weekend workshop is rounded off with a networking event to present your work and goals in the photographic arts. This weekend course/workshop can be taken concurrently with other classes.
Senior Seminar: Theory & Practice
This seminar is an advanced course that combines readings in the history and theory of photography and art, visiting lectures from curators and professionals in the field of photography, writing, and discussions of contemporary photographic practice. The course provides opportunities for students to discuss their project and work amongst a group of other advanced students, and to situate their own ideas and practice within a framework of contemporary photography. Students completing this course are encouraged to take Thesis in the following year.
Prerequisites: Junior Seminar
Any seminars, classes or electives may fill this requirement, though we encourage students to consider their creative and professional goals, as well as the level of the course before choosing courses to fill this requirement. Students entering the program through Photo I: Digital will have three instead of four elective courses (because of Photo I: B&W requirement).
This final course in the Photo Center Certificate Program is designed so that each student may bring an extended photographic project from an initial stage to final realization. Students have an entire year to explore frameworks for building a long-term project with conceptual, visual and thematic components. Over the course of the year, students will develop a project appropriate for public exhibition, and will be challenged to justify their visual and conceptual decisions in the context of fine art photography practice. The course culminates in a gallery exhibition of student work. Students will work with their individual advisers outside of class time to prepare work for critiques.
Prerequisites: Senior Seminar
Photo Center NW is an accredited institutional member of National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
What does Accreditation Mean?
Learn more about NASAD and accreditation here.
11250 Roger Bacon Drive
Reston, VA 20190-5248
Telephone: (703) 437 0700
Fax: (703) 437 6312
Photo Center NW is licensed in the state of Washington under Chapter 28C.10 RCW. Inquiries or complaints regarding this private vocational school may be made to:
Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board
128 – 10th Ave. SW
Olympia, Washington 98504
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org