New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy Photography

1-Year Hands-on Conservatory Photography Program

Photography Showcase New York Film Academy photography student poised for a shot with his Canon camera. New York Film Academy photography students in beanies edit a photo of a man outside at night New York Film Academy Photography Chair David Mager photographs a NYFA student.

Overview of our 1-Year Photography Program

One-year photography program includes an HDSLR camera and one-week trip

Review Of The New York Photography Program


The one-year photography program is a total immersion experience designed to equip students with the practical skills needed to take great photographs. It uniquely provides instruction and intensive hands-on experience in the technology, aesthetics, business, history and theory of still photography, as well as the use of the moving image from a photographer’s perspective. While photography has always been intrinsically tied to technology, the image-makers of today cannot afford to call themselves just photographers. They must also be digital imaging experts, and capable of working confidently with multimedia platforms.

Photo by Photography Graduate Yuka Fujita No significant prior experience in photography is assumed. The program brings everyone to the same level very quickly, beginning with the fundamentals and filling the inevitable gaps in the understanding of those who have some experience.

Skills learned as a result of successful completion of this program include:
  • An in-depth knowledge of digital SLR cameras, lighting, post-production, and printing
  • Expertise at producing winning bids and managing a successful photography business
  • Research techniques for documentary subjects or news stories visualized through photography
  • Mastery of Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Premiere Pro) and Lightroom
  • Intimate familiarity with the history of photography and major movements since its invention
  • Knowledge of aesthetic theories of photography and experience with their practical application
  • The ability to work independently in a high-pressure creative environment


The main goal of the first semester is to develop core photography skills by shooting assignments with a state of the art digital SLR. As you shoot and edit, you are immersed in the theory and history of photography. Studying and re-shooting master works and participating in critiques develops your skill at conceptualizing, pre-visualizing, composing, exposing and editing powerful images using style to underscore content.

Students roam the world-class museums, galleries, studios, agencies and publishers of New York City, a beehive of globally resonant creative imaging, to see firsthand how cameras have formed our world. A diverse group of professional guest artists and lecturers drawn from the superstar roster of talent that frequents New York City exposes students to a broad range of contemporary perspectives and approaches within commercial, fine art, fashion, documentary and journalistic traditions.

Photo by Photography Graduate Trang Tran Photographers are first and foremost light hunters. Students will learn to recognize the revelatory power of dramatic light and the imaginative potential of shadows as they bend the sun, the moon, and every conceivable artificial light source from sparklers to studio flash to illuminate subjects with visceral intensity. Even as they learn traditional 3-point lighting, students are encouraged to think beyond convention to lighting techniques with the emotional and dramatic impact most appropriate to highlight their ideas.

As students examine a wide range of imaging disciplines, they practice the essential business skills that enable any professional to run a successful practice, including research, bidding, self-promotion, marketing, personal presentation, stock sales, studio organization, contracts, exhibition, licensing, publishing and artist grants.

Photography today is intrinsically linked to Adobe Photoshop as the pre-eminent digital darkroom tool. Industry experts help you master non-destructive image editing, learn the staggering power of RAW processing, how to target and shift colors with incredible precision, professional selection and masking techniques, and even how to manipulate time in the editing process.


  • Test aperture ranges, shutter speeds, lenses, lighting tools, and filtration options on a wide variety of subjects.
  • Thoroughly test the limits of over and under exposure and RAW processing and the effect on the “look” of an image.
  • Research, conceptualize, shoot, edit and output a photographic and multimedia documentary essay, including a written artist’s statement.
  • Conceptualize, shoot, edit and output a fine-art body of work on a single cohesive theme, including a written artist’s statement.
  • Develop and participate in a community of creative peers capable of providing invaluable critical feedback.
  • Understand the components of exposure.
  • Acquire a working mastery over a digital SLR camera and standard lenses for still imaging.
  • Develop working digital darkroom and library management skills using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.
  • Understand basic color management and be able to output accurate prints to modern inkjet printers.
  • Recognize the characteristics and make creative use of basic lighting tools and camera position to create drama and emotional impact under typical lighting conditions.
  • Become familiar with the history of photography through the experience of studying and re-creating iconic images from the invention of the medium up until 1960.
  • Understand and apply theories of aesthetics, semiotics, design, composition and color.

NYFA Alumni Spotlight: Photographer Sinem Yazici


The second semester is constructed as an experience of a typical photographer’s professional life, split between commercial assignments and personal work. The idea behind this is twofold: first, to give students the opportunity to actually practice not only creative techniques, but also to become completely comfortable with the business skills photographers need. Secondly, pursing a personal project insures that students never lose sight of what made them fall in love with photography in the first place, and that the demands of commercial work do not overshadow their passion.

The second semester builds on students’ basic skill set and challenges them to refine their technical, aesthetic and business skills. Focusing on commercial image-making, students look at established masters as they work intensively with studio lighting and the DSLR on fashion, product, beauty, and architectural assignments. Art direction and design elements are employed to create distinctive visual styles. In post production, students move beyond basic color and tonal correction into sophisticated compositing techniques, dynamic range extensions, advanced retouching and masking techniques.

Students explore the creative potential of unconventional cameras, and get familiar with the incredible high-definition video capabilities of today’s state-of-the-art DSLR cameras as they are immersed in a unique curriculum of visual storytelling techniques.

Students expand their repertoire of light and shadow as they work with professional lighting and grip hardware, as well as inexpensive and unconventional practical sources of light and shadow.


  • Conceptualize, shoot, edit, print, and hang an exhibition of a personal body of work to contemporary exhibition standards.
  • Apply professional business practices to each project, including releases, casting, contracts, and art direction.
  • Thoroughly test a wide variety of lenses and alternative image capture devices.
  • Conceptualize, shoot, edit and exhibit a commercial photo project, working with models, an art director, sets, and professional lighting equipment.
  • Begin to develop a recognizable personal, iconic style and color palette through the use of composition, color, design, and lighting.
  • Refine expert lighting skills that can be applied under controlled and real-world conditions.
  • Develop an ability to pre-visualize an image before shooting and to execute it with precision and speed.
  • Develop the ability to incorporate planned final RAW processing into exposure techniques.
  • Acquire the ability to recognize and fix color correction issues.
  • Develop the ability to pre-visualize and produce a wide variety of looks from the same RAW file.
  • Learn motion picture storytelling techniques, including writing, directing, producing, lighting, and editing.
  • Become familiar with commercial business practices, ethics, contracts, and legal issues.
  • Develop expert digital imaging and inkjet printing skills using Adobe Photoshop.
  • Become intimately familiar with the history of photography and imaging technology from 1960 through today.

Course Description (*Optional)

Photo I
Imaging I
Vision & Style I
Ways of Seeing I
Shooting Lab
Gallery/Museum Tour
Photo II
Imaging II
Ways of Seeing II
Applied Photography I
Vision & Style II
Production Lab

Photo I

Photo I is the core of the curriculum, encompassing lecture, demonstration, shooting assignments on location and in the studio, and critique. Students learn the mechanics of cameras and lenses and the components of exposure. Students are taught to be aware of the unique characteristics that light can take: direct, diffused, reflected, tempered by atmosphere. They begin to master the modern digital SLR for still photography and high-definition video, and analyze digital capture’s pleasures (instant gratification!) and pitfalls (generic, competent images). Every technique is practiced through individual assignments, which are critiqued by faculty and peers. Projects span still photography, stop motion and timelapse animation, and basic cinematography.
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Imaging I

This course is an intensive introduction to Adobe Lightroom as a RAW editor and indispensable library management tool, and Adobe Photoshop, possibly the greatest tool of visual illusion and manipulation ever invented. Bypassing the flashy effects that wow amateurs looking for one-click solutions, students learn professional digital darkroom techniques that give unprecedented color and tonal control over their images. Students build their digital workflow from RAW processing through non- destructive editing, and output from print to web page to iPad. This course includes lecture, demonstration and lab time for students to edit their own images with the assistance of expert faculty.
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Vision & Style I

Vision & Style is the class in which students put the skills to use acquired in other classes to develop a personal body of work as they become deeply familiar in what it means to conceive of and complete a project. Students acquire critical thinking skills within the visual language of photography, and explore their personal interests in photography as they conceptualize, execute, refine, and critique a fine art and a documentary project. As much about conceptual approach and raison d’être as technique, students will begin to develop a personal, iconic visual style and specific area of interest, studying master bodies of work across both genres as examples. The primary focus will be on the still photo, but the use of the moving image will also be explored through class assignments.

Students will become familiar with principles of graphic design, composition, color, editing, sequencing, and presentation as they refine their bodies of work. Through writing, journaling, drawing, research, presentation, and photographic assignments, students will gain a level of self-awareness necessary to understand the most salient origins for their ideas, and start to conceive how their work might fit into the context of current practices and attitudes.

In the final weeks of Vision and Style I, each student meets with the entire faculty to review their first semester’s work and discuss possible directions for the final graduation project that they will submit for final approval early in the 2nd semester, and then execute in Vision and Style II.
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Ways of Seeing I

Intensive study, analysis, and re-creation of the work of master photographers, their techniques, aesthetics and approaches from its invention through 1960 equips students with a first-person knowledge of how and why iconic images were created. Beyond tools and techniques, students are guided to analyze the cultural and societal impact of photography, the essential role of historical and societal context, and the evolution of the assumed veracity of photographs as “truth,” given the use of modern photographic manipulation with tools such as Photoshop. Students thus empower their own repertoire of methods to realize their own projects. Additionally, students are immersed in a particular photographer’s body of work through written projects and oral presentations.

Discussions include composition, traditional and non-conventional framing, color theory, design, semiotics (signs and symbols), the effect of technological changes on photography, the use and limitations of photography as a documentary and personal record, and the surprisingly long history of using viewer assumptions to distort the truth.
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Shooting Lab

A unique, hands on course in which students develop core professional skills and techniques during location shoots with live feedback from an instructor. Covering a wide range of genres along with aesthetic, logistical and technical challenges, students will have the opportunity to work directly with master photographers, practically applying new skills across a range of assignments of increasing complexity. Exercises will include photographic and multimedia assignments, including audio field recording, audio editing, multimedia editing, and output for a variety of distribution mediums.
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Gallery/Museum Tour

Students are taken on a weekly guided tour of current gallery and museum exhibitions of photo-based work and studio visits. They become familiar with current curatorial standards and practices, browse exhibition catalogues, and become acquainted with print prices and editioning as a key factor. They are also given essential opportunities to interact directly with exhibition curators and artists, and see firsthand the true finished product of the medium - the print - using a diverse array of substrates, sequencing and presentation ideologies, and mounting and framing techniques. Instructors and curators lecture and lead guided discussions about artistic practices and bodies of work both contemporary and throughout the history of the medium.
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Photo II

Photo II teaches students the advanced lighting, filmmaking, and camera techniques needed to execute their commercial and personal assignments. Students explore conventional lighting tools from hot and cool continuous sources, studio and portable strobe lighting, professional grip hardware along with a variety of unconventional sources. The pre-eminent live capture software, Capture One, is used to provide real-time display of processed RAW images on HDTV client monitors.

To consolidate this knowledge, class exercises and discussions will be based around topics such as three-point lighting, soft and hard light, color temperature, gels, diffusion and light-shaping tools for both still images and motion picture cinematography.

Techniques for narrative, documentary, and music video projects are practiced, including camera movement, lighting, maintaining focus with and without a camera assistant, digital workflow, screen direction, capturing and synchronizing audio, using grip hardware, and working with and without a crew.
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Imaging II

After being steeped in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop as their primary digital imaging tools, Imaging II provides intensive perceptual training to empower students with the ability to pre-visualize how an image will look before the shutter is even released, and to produce an astounding range of interpretions from their RAW files. The over-arching goal of this course is to help students create a personal visual style through the masterful orchestration of tone and color.

Students learn how to transcend the limitations of any camera through the use of dynamic range extensions (with and without HDR) and multi-image compositing (both manually and using automated stitching tools) to create ultra-high resolution images under any lighting conditions.

Students will composite entirely new visual worlds and learn how to radically alter surfaces using transformations, brush-based retouching, and layer masks, matching tone, texture, and color in photographically believable ways. Furthering their skills in RAW processing, students will learn commercial retouching practices and advanced color and tone control within multiple color spaces. This course further demystifies color management, enabling students to achieve consistently accurate results from capture to final output. We also look at RGB, CMYK and LAB color spaces, conversions and workflow configuration.

Finally, students acquire working skills editing and color correcting high-definition video, editing and mixing audio, and producing high-definition output for broadcast, web, and home video distribution using Adobe’s Creative Suite applications.
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Ways of Seeing II

The approach of this course is to broaden each student’s visual language by analyzing iconic masterworks from the history of the photographic and moving image mediums from 1960 through today, and then applying those visual approaches to their own work. Major movements in the medium to be studied will include narrative art, deadpan, conceptual, autobiographical, documentary and fictional documentary, revisions, remakes, and subversions of genre, and others.

Discussions include the impact of the digital revolution in relation to the proliferation of image distribution devices (the cell phone, iPod, the web, etc.) and its relationship to popular culture, photojournalism, the blurring of art and commerce, and the radical degree to which commercial retouching practices have distorted viewer expectations and utterly transformed the very nature of what a photograph is. Students analyze the aesthetics and techniques of particular photographers through written research projects.
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Applied Photography I

Creating consistently outstanding work and bringing client briefs vividly to life are keys to becoming a professional photographer, but successful pros must also manage a comprehensive range of business challenges and personalities. This comprehensive course trains students in the business and production side of photography, addressing every aspect of running a professional photography practice. Seven assignments spanning two weeks each give students the opportunity to practice every aspect of a professional shoot, from pitch to invoice.

A wide range of skills are taught, including: working with an art director and hair/makeup artist, selecting props and clothes, lighting, shooting, handling the stress of working with clients supervising shoots live, processing and image delivery both electronically and in print format, invoicing, creating a licensing contract, budgeting, location scouting, casting and working with models, permits, model releases, choosing equipment, setting up a studio, accounting, licensing agreements, logistics, booking crews, ethics and legalities, setting and then exceeding clients’ expectations.

Students practice turning client briefs into thoroughly produced and executed assignments, learning how to recognize and fix unrealistic requests before committing to an impossible task.

Students practice the skills necessary to landing paid assignments by presenting and defending each project pitch and finished work in front of the class.
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Vision & Style II

Vision and Style II guides students through the development of a cohesive body of personal work that most accurately represents the area of interest that they will pursue as image-makers after graduation. In the early weeks of the course, students must submit a final project proposal to the entire faculty for approval.

Throughout the course, students refine their conceptual approach, submit ongoing work for critique, analyze the business and creative practices of successful contemporary artists by preparing class presentations, write an artist’s statement, create titles, decide on image sizes, choose a mounting and presentation method, plan and execute their final exhibition of images printed to professional exhibition standards, assign prices and decide on editioning, and assemble an exhibition catalog.

Visits to and analysis of current gallery and museum exhibitions will also play a major role.
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Production Lab

This course gives students the opportunity to put their knowledge of lighting, photography, and filmmaking into action during a series of location shoots, and to receive individual guidance from instructors as they edit, print, sequence, and prepare their portfolios and final exhibition of images and moving image projects.

Students will receive lighting demonstrations in class and hands-on shooting time with instructors on location. This course also explores digital photo and video editing techniques and looks at ways for students to increase their web presence to get their work out into the wider world.
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Dates & Tuition

Fees Per Year

Tuition: $22,455 (USD) Per Seme +
Equipment + Lab Fee: $ Equipment & Technology Fe(USD)

Number of Semesters: 2

Location & Available Dates

For Los Angeles:
Aug 2023 - Apr 2024
Jan 2024 - Aug 2024
Aug 2024 - Apr 2025

For New York City:
May 2023 - Dec 2023
Aug 2023 - Apr 2024
Jan 2024 - Aug 2024
May 2024 - Dec 2024
Aug 2024 - Apr 2025

Please note: Dates and Tuition are subject to change
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new york film academy special student expedition *The expedition is planned and supervised by NYFA faculty and staff. Please note: participants pay for the costs of their transportation, accommodation, and food. The trip is scheduled during a school vacation or semester break. It is offered as an optional experience, students and alumni are not required to participate.

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