New York Film Academy ACTING & FILM SCHOOL The Most Hands-on Intensive Programs In The World


$16,000 per semester*
Photo by Bryan Kong NYFA Photography Grad Photo by Nasreen Zakariya NYFA Photography Grad Photo by Amelia Calderon NYFA Photography Grad Photo by Andreas Poupoutsis NYFA Photography Grad


The Academy makes the accelerated two-year schedule possible by creating an extended academic year allowing students to complete three full-length semesters in each calendar year.

New York Film Academy MFA degree programs are offered only at our Los Angeles Campus.

The New York Film Academy Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Photography is an accelerated, conservatory based graduate program designed for full time study over the course of four semesters. The New York Film Academy provides a creative setting with which to develop, challenge and inspire the talents of prospective photographers in a totally immersive, professional environment. By combining seminars and lectures with intense, hands-on classes, students acquire a sound understanding and appreciation of still photography and learn to integrate knowledge and professional experience.

Photo by Photography Graduate Sihang Zhang Candidates for the MFA degree must complete 60 credits and maintain a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and produce a successful thesis project to be eligible for degree conferral.

At NYFA, students engage with a diverse international student body and a core faculty of working professionals. The MFA in Photography includes visits to museums, galleries and studios along with guest lectures and critiques by photographers, artists and curators. The photography department embraces all lens-based media, offering a unique curriculum that includes digital and film-based photography. After the first year, students personalize their own programs with a variety of electives.

Upon graduation of the MFA in Photography Program, students will demonstrate:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of digital and film cameras and optics from 35mm to large format
  • In-depth experience with a wide range of digital and photochemical image creation, processing and printing techniques
  • Expertise in contemporary business practices
  • A comprehensive awareness of and expertise with lighting
  • Mastery of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the history of photography, aesthetics and technology
  • Comprehension of advanced aesthetic and technical theories of photography and experience with their practical application
  • The ability to work independently and collaboratively in a high-pressure creative environment
  • Technical excellence and conceptual depth in the production of their final graduation exhibition work and portfolio of images
  • The ability to articulate in verbal and written form the key technical, formal and conceptual ideas in their creative work and the work of others
Photo by Photography Graduate Giovanna Lanna The photography faculty is committed to students and their futures as successful image-makers. Through demanding, hands-on coursework, instructors help students keep pace with technological change and push them to excel in all the skills needed to compete in the marketplace.

NYFA provides a unique setting for the development of both creative vision and technical proficiency necessary for a career as a photographer. The program supports aesthetic exploration in all forms of lens based media and promotes academic enquiry through research recognizing the importance of critical analysis and writing to both comprehend and create a cohesive body of work.


In the first year, MFA in Photography students are immersed in a rigorous schedule of classroom learning, hands-on instructor supervised workshops and outside projects. Throughout the program, this combination provides a stringent forum allowing students to develop their technical skills and artistic identities.


In the first semester, students analyze and critique images, develop essential skills to conceptualize, compose and develop their own visual language. Students are encouraged to think beyond convention and apply what they have learned to their creative work. They work intensively with available and artificial lighting on a wide variety of assignments. Art direction and design elements are employed to create distinctive visual styles.

Photo by Photography Graduate Yukie Sato Expanding their repertoire of techniques with light and shadow, students work with professional strobe lighting and grip hardware, as well as inexpensive and unconventional practical sources of light.

Students solidify their work with DSLRs shooting portraiture, landscape, product and architecture both in studio and on location.


Project Goals
  • Develop and participate in a community of creative peers capable of providing invaluable critical feedback
  • Explore and develop a personal visual style
  • Conceptualize, produce and edit a set of work that defines the student’s personal narrative
Learning Goals
  • Understand basic color management and be able to output accurate prints to modern inkjet printers
  • Recognize the characteristics of light and make creative use of basic lighting tools and camera positions
  • Refine creative lighting skills through the use of conventional and unconventional sources
  • Demonstrate working knowledge of DSLRs
  • Apply digital darkroom skills using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Understand and apply theories of aesthetics, semiotics, design, composition and color
  • Conceive, shoot and edit a body of fine art work
  • Demonstrate the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate images
  • Examine and discuss the work of seminal visual artists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  • Demonstrate the ability to pre-visualize an image and realize it through lighting and photographic techniques


The second semester expands into a broad exposure of state-of-the-art technology; empowering students to further develop their own personal visual identity.

In post-production, students move beyond basic color and tone correction into sophisticated compositing methods, dynamic range extension, and advanced retouching and masking techniques. Students thoroughly explore the creative potential of nontraditional image-making technology.


Project Goals
  • Expand knowledge of digital and analog medium and large format cameras
  • Develop proficiency with film capture with digital output
  • Master the ability to consistently produce superior-quality images that accurately illustrate a specific concept
  • Produce a body of work showing technical excellence and creative vision
Photo by Photography Graduate Trang Tran Learning Goals
  • Understand and apply advanced theories of aesthetics, semiotics, design, composition and color
  • Apply advanced digital darkroom skills using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Demonstrate advanced working knowledge of the Zone System for exposure and final output
  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of technological, artistic, social and cultural currents from contemporary photographic practice
  • Examine and discuss the work of seminal visual artists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  • Demonstrate knowledge and be able to analyze the effect visual media has on the way contemporary society reads images
  • Identify key technical, formal and conceptual issues in their creative work and the work of others and articulate these in verbal and written form
  • Demonstrate working knowledge of the Zone System for exposure and final output
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current business practices in the professional photography industry


In second year, students are encouraged to work more independently and are challenged to produce the highest caliber work. They conceptualize and develop their final thesis project under the guidance of instructors, participate in academically challenging theory courses as well as being immersed in digital darkroom practices for final print output.

Students are able to complement their core courses by selecting a number of electives depending on their chosen areas of specialization.


Final thesis projects are initiated this semester. Students receive guidance in choosing a focus from within a fine art, documentary, journalistic or commercial convention. They must write a 10–20 page thesis proposal and receive approval from the thesis committee comprised of photography department chair, faculty and outside assessors. Proposals must contain a clear statement of the artistic vision, purpose and technique(s) candidates intend to employ.

Photo by Photography Graduate Jessica Pernikoff Other courses further develop students’ technical abilities supporting their aesthetic development. Students learn to apply essential business elements that professional photographers oversee routinely, including research, assignments, bidding, stock imagery, studio organization, contracts, exhibitions and licensing, to their specific area of interest.

In Semester Three, students can choose three electives that complement their chosen area of study.


Project Goals
  • Write a rigorous, detailed thesis proposal
  • Construct a working business plan
  • Develop a marketing strategy for self-promotion
Learning Goals
  • Refine the ability to orchestrate tone and color through post-production software to accurately create a specific aesthetic
  • Improve skills in preparing and proofing digital images for accurate, predictable prints
  • Refine ability to analyze and evaluate images
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the visual language of photography and the ability to incorporate technical, formal and conceptual competencies in their creative work
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current business practices in the professional photography industry
  • Develop working expertise with flatbed film scanning techniques and devices
  • Demonstrate working knowledge of the Zone System for exposure and final output
  • Identify and apply best business practices for their chosen genre
  • Demonstrate critical thinking skills in evaluating a diverse range of historical and contemporary art works


The focus in the fourth semester is the final thesis project, which includes every element of an exhibition: planning, researching, shooting, editing, processing, publishing, promoting and installing.

Photo by Photography Graduate Julio Gaggia The final work must include gallery-quality prints, with accompanying text and a statement by the artist. Students choose a fine art, documentary, journalistic or commercial approach and will be evaluated by the standards established for those genres and assessed by the chair, faculty and external assessors.

In the final semester, students learn the best methods of marketing to target audiences. Coursework includes branding approaches, marketing plans and self- promotion techniques.

Students also complete another three electives to augment their final body of work. The semester culminates in an exhibition, where students celebrate their achievements with the viewing public and network with curators, publishers, image buyers, photo editors, agents and fellow image-makers.


Project Goals
  • Develop and print a portfolio of meticulously executed images
  • Produce promotional materials for targeted markets
  • Demonstrate a high degree of technical excellence and conceptual depth in the production of work for the final thesis project and portfolios
  • Produce a final thesis exhibition
Learning Goals
  • Develop proficiency and experience with current professional practices
  • Study and apply the elements of successful branding
  • Improve presentation and networking skills
  • Develop relevant marketing plans to reach their targeted audiences
  • Demonstrate skills in editing, selecting and presenting work for specific clients and venues
  • Master the critical skills necessary to analyze and interpret images
  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of technological, artistic, social and cultural currents from the history of photography and contemporary photographic practice and be able to relate their work to this history and practice
  • Apply advanced conceptual skills to produce a professionally executed body of work
  • Demonstrate advanced technical skills, creative vision and personal aesthetic in their final portfolio
  • Demonstrate mastery of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom for image processing, file organization and digital output
  • Apply advanced theories of aesthetics, semiotics, design composition and color to their images
  • Demonstrate their knowledge of contemporary exhibition protocols via planning and designing their final thesis exhibition, sequencing images and mounting/framing/hanging techniques

Course Description (*Electives)

Photography Essentials

Students investigate concept-driven photography by conceptualizing and producing a body of creative work, which represents the themes and iconography that interest them most. Based on a single concept, students are guided to follow current business practices, writing an artist statement and bio to accompany their images.

Contemporary Issues in Photography

This course examines works of art from a diverse range of social and political roots to personal and narrative imagery through the study of artists and opens the discussion of content versus form. Topics include, “Why style rather than non-style?”, “How does style apply to form?” and “Can the content of a work be articulated in different styles?”. Artists, critics and curators will be invited to participate in class discussions.

The Critical Eye

This course is designed to help students develop and refine their analytic sensibilities. Reviewing a wide range of historic and contemporary artworks along with the writings of art critics and historians, students will investigate the ways in which society processes and assesses images.

Through in-depth investigation of the cultural and aesthetic implications of the images they review, the class will explore their ability to influence viewers’ reactions and perceptions. This course also examines how this line of critical thinking applies to photography as a whole. Students will apply this knowledge to the production of their images.

Imaging Essentials I

This immersive course explores the theory and practice of post-production techniques for still photography. Students are trained in digital and analog techniques so they are equipped with all the relevant tools for effective workflow and final high quality output.

Professional Lighting Practices I

In this hands-on course, students’ lighting skills are advanced in all aspects of available and artificial lighting. They will further their understanding of the intricacies and importance that light has to the photographic process and how mastering these concepts will lead to cogent solutions. In-class and outside assignments will specifically give students problem-solving, practical tools.

Photography Practicum I

Students’ skills in visual perception are refined as they embark on a series of shooting assignments in studio and/or on location using large format camera systems. Students receive valuable direction and feedback in technique and aesthetics via a series of in-class critiquing sessions and are guided through in-depth and challenging exercises.

Historical & Critical Perspectives I

Through lectures, discussion, guest presentations, readings and hands-on projects, students will examine various forms of non-fiction storytelling, both moving and still. This course explores the narrative through a range of traditional disciplines such as (but not limited to): documentary, journalism, fine art, anthropology, and science. Storytelling evolves in response to cultural context and socio-political climates. In this course students will examine and understand this constant evolution and consider how storytelling has changed both historically and with 21st Century technology.

Prerequisite(s): Successful Completion of Semester 1 Courses

Professional Methods I

This course offers a forum for discussion of various topics such as: how the tools you use affect the outcome of a project, contemporary print aesthetics, the new color, a return to black and white, the power of the edit, and is analog post production still a viable method in a digital arena. Through hands-on projects, students will explore connections and apply this to their own practice.

Imaging Essentials II

An in-depth follow up to Imaging Essentials I, this lab-based course enables students to further their mastery of RAW processing, color management and workflow practices while developing advanced perceptual skills. Students will also explore a range of possibilities for printing images.

Students will receive in-depth training in visual perception, advancing their ability to see and orchestrate subtle differences in tone and color with the end goal of developing a unique personal palette and visual style. Students will composite entirely new visual worlds using transformations, layer masks, tone, texture and color matching. Furthering their skills in RAW processing, they will learn commercial retouching and advanced color and tone control within multiple color spaces. This course further demystifies color management enabling students to achieve consistently accurate results throughout their work. RGB, CMYK and LAB color spaces, conversions and workflow configuration will also be covered.

Prerequisite(s): Imaging Essentials I

Professional Lighting Practices II

Professional Lighting Practices II provides students with a constructive forum in which they are encouraged to take stock of their current skill set and further develop their professional objectives. Extending their knowledge from Semester One, students refine their lighting practice further with individually directed assignments. Instructors offer a mentored environment for students to initiate and produce assignments in their specific areas of interest.

Prerequisite(s): Professional Lighting Practices I

Photography Practicum II

This practical course builds on the principles taught in Photography Practicum I and further refines students’ skills in medium and large format digital and analog systems. Students work extensively with digital backs on all their assignments so that they are thoroughly versed in digital capture and output. Towards the end of the semester, students work one-on-one with instructors in their particular area of interest to complete a body of work. Students master the expert use of Capture One for live digital capture, RAW processing, and shoot management using high-end medium format digital backs as well as DSLR cameras.

Prerequisite(s): Photography Practicum I

Professional Methods II

Questions posed in Professional Methods I will be applied and expanded upon in this course. In addition, this course expands on students’ knowledge of the Professional Photography business. Portfolio development, self-promotion strategies and essential business practices are emphasized in students’ fields of interest. Students will work on branding their own business identity and constructing a business plan.

Prerequisite(s): Professional Methods I

Historical & Critical Perspectives II

The integral and increasingly fluid relationship between the photograph and the moving image in contemporary arts practice will be explored in this course. Special attention will be paid to the critical and historical discourses that have shaped cinema practice and tradition as well as the significance of editing and the treatment of time. Included are examination and discussion of the shared histories of the still and moving image.

Prerequisite(s): Historical & Critical Perspectives I

Thesis Prep

Clearly stating objectives gives each student and their instructor a well-defined goal to work towards in Semester Four when focus shifts to the graduation project. Students will write a proposal of 10–20 pages outlining what their project will be about, why they chose it as their body of work and how they will go about completing it. Students will be expected to thoroughly research their chosen genre, explaining its historical precedents and influences.

Advanced Imaging I

This course encompasses application of advanced printing techniques. Students are immersed in advanced color correction techniques for digital prepress including CMYK and LAB modes, framework-based tone and color manipulation to orchestrate visual attention, advanced printing techniques, scanning, spotting, sharpening and digitally printing film negatives using high-end dedicated film scanners, the use of exotic media including transparency film, the use of color RIP systems, and printing using dedicated monochrome Piezography ink sets in modern inkjet (giclée) printers.

Thesis Project

Students will execute and complete their thesis projects, culminating in an end-of-program group exhibition.

Following their clearly stated thesis objectives from Semester Three, each student will refine their body of creative work in the following ways: through peer and instructor feedback, rigorous critiques, an artist’s statement, editing sessions, planning and designing the exhibition; sequencing images to achieve the desired viewer impact, mounting, framing hanging techniques and the installation itself.

Advanced Imaging II

A practical course where students are guided through their specific projects in specialized techniques such as compositing, advanced workflow, mastering high-resolution files with Smart Objects and learning professional masking and high-end retouching. The goal of this course is to augment and refine each student’s Photoshop skills for a wide range of applications both in the studio and the workplace.

Prerequisite(s): Advanced Imaging I

Navigating the Industry

As students transition to the professional world beyond the academic environment, this course provides practical guidance on the myriad ways photographers skills are utilized in the industry. This course includes guest lectures as well as guidance in preparing a final marketing package photographers will need once they finish the program.

Digital Printing Methodologies

Under the guidance of instructors, students will produce exhibition quality prints for the graduation show. Expanding on existing skills from Advanced Imaging, students will fine-tune the technical controls required for professional level printmaking and workflow. Students will also experiment with input and output variances that affect their final print including modifying tonal adjustments to match the proofs, appropriate sharpening techniques and understanding proofs in relation to size, substrate and color. Black-and-white or color printing, students will be expected to analyze and adjust their own prints every step of the way.

Book Design for Photographers*

The photo book is currently one of the most popular methods for presentation and marketing of one’s work within the photographic industry. Starting with the subject matter and visual concept, this course will cover editing, photo sequencing and all aspects of design and final output as well as self-publishing or working with a publishing company.

Portfolio Development*

A student’s portfolio consolidates the use of the photographic image as a means of expression and communication, demonstrating technical ability, creative vision and personal aesthetic brought together in a cohesive body of work.

Through a process of self-reflection, peer review and lecturer feedback, students will produce and fine-tune a portfolio to a standard that is ready for presentation to the professional sector in their chosen area of the industry.

Internship/Self Promotion*

As students continue to review and refine both their print and online work, this course prepares them for a career in professional photography: presenting and targeting their portfolios to specific markets.

Students learn how to distinguish themselves through branding, develop strategic marketing plans and identify themselves through marketing their portfolios to meet the needs of different clients. This course also includes techniques for market-specific portfolios and promotional materials including business cards.

For the internship component of this course, students receive valuable hands-on experience in a variety of areas in the industry, from assisting photographers to working with a production company. Students are assisted in finding a position, which must have approval from the Faculty Chair of Photography to receive credit. Students unable to secure an internship must complete an alternative project in order to meet this course requirement.

Alternative Processes*

In this course, students will explore alternative silver processes including lith printing, chromoskedasic and liquid light. Students are encouraged to explore the myriad creative uses of a variety of processing and printing techniques as a way to expand -their photographic vocabulary and personal work.

Motion Capture for Photographers*

Today’s photographers are expected to be equally as skilled at using video as they are the still image. This course offers students a solid introduction to time-based media, allowing them to practice core skills in cinematography, using continuous light sources, directing, screenwriting, location sound recording, directing actors, producing, and non-linear editing. Students produce two projects during the semester.

Advanced Film Photography*

A hands-on class in medium and large format film photography, the Zone System for exposure and development, and B&W photochemical printing. Using mechanical cameras and lenses, students will learn the technology and processes involved in photochemical photography, from the mechanics of the cameras themselves to traditional darkroom techniques for developing film and making silver prints on both RC and fiber paper.

Students will gain hands-on experience in black and white printing and develop their own creative vision by making images in a variety of genres and lighting conditions, including landscape, architecture, portrait and still-life.

Current Perspectives in Photography*

In this course, students consolidate their knowledge of the image as a means of expressing ideas, emotions and experiences. Students will have the opportunity to freely explore a range of critical, aesthetic and practical issues relevant to contemporary photographers. Engaging in readings, lectures, discussions, research and writing will expand critical thinking and expressive skills.

Prerequisite(s): Successful Completion of Semester 3 Courses

Dates & Tuition

Fees Per Semester

Tuition: $16,000 (USD) +
Equipment + Lab Fee: $1,000(USD)

Student will also incur additional expenses, this varies depending on how much of their work they choose to print and the scale of their project.

Students enrolling in our MFA Photography program should bring a high quality Canon or Nikon digital SLR camera and at least one lens with them to the program. These cameras will be used throughout the program with NYFA's compatible lenses, lights, and accessories. For details of suggested Canon and Nikon camera models and equipment used in the program please contact our Photography Department:
Location & Available Dates

For Los Angeles:
May 2014 - September 2015
September 2014 - January 2016
January 2015 - May 2016
May 2015 - September 2016
September 2015 - January 2017


New York Film Academy Photography School Faculty Bobbi Fabian

Bobbi Fabian

Thesis Project

MA and BA in Photography, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. College level teacher for over 10 years. Commercial photographer in Australia, Asia, and the US for over 15 years. Clients include Timex, United Airlines, Motor Trend Classic, Elle Magazine, Australian Gourmet Traveler, Penguin Books, Audi, Lexus and Westfield. Currently working on several ongoing personal projects.
New York Film Academy Photography School Faculty Paul Bennett

Paul Bennett

Photo Practicum I and II, Intermediate Lighting

Commercial photographer specializing in product and still life. Clients include: Merrill Lynch, Kenji Studios, B&W Magazine
New York Film Academy Photography School Faculty Sharon Cavanagh

Sharon Cavanagh

Photography Essentials

Diploma of Illustrative Photography, Photography Studies College in Melbourne. Freelance photographer with teaching experience at Art Center and DMA (Stanford and UCLA). Clients include the New York Times, Habitat for Humanity, AP, Fox Atomic Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Her work has been exhibited at the Australian embassy in NYC, the National Portrait Gallery in London and in galleries in Melbourne and Los Angeles.
New York Film Academy Photography School Faculty Max Gerber

Max Gerber

Applied Photo III, Professional Lighting Practices II

BA Philosophy/Music and Studio Art, Pitzer College, Claremont, CA. Commercial clients include: TIME, People, Forbes, Businessweek, LA Magazine, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel Magazine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch.
New York Film Academy Photography School Faculty Will Hare

Will Hare

Photo I, Imaging II, Intro to Lighting

BA in Photography, Art Center College of Design. Clients include Apple, American Institute of Architects, Southern California Gas Co., Discovery Science Center, WAT&G Architects, and Fairfield Timeshares. His work has been published in Sunset Magazine, Orange Coast Magazine, and Builder and Developer Magazine. He is a much sought-after architectural, landscape, and editorial photographer.
New York Film Academy Photography School Faculty Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

Vision & Style I and II, Thesis Prep, Ways of Seeing, Personal Vision II

MFA Creative Photography, CSUF; BA Painting/Printmaking/Photography, SDSU, CA. Mel is experienced with analog and digital photography as well as photo theory.
New York Film Academy Photography School Faculty Lynn Robb

Lynn Robb

The Critical Eye, Critical Studies

BA from The Evergreen State College, Fine Art studies at Cornish College of the Arts. Art director and graphic designer for fashion, art, and entertainment clients including Condé Nast, Disney, and A&M Records. Author of educational materials for Santa Monica Museum of Art and P.S. Arts. Co-Director of ARTS at WORK, an arts-integration consultancy for K-12 educators.
Ming Tshing

Ming Tshing

Imaging I, Digital Printing Methodologies

Instructor, Art Center College of Design, Santa Monica College; Digital Imaging at Nash Editions and Espon/Cypress College
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