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College of Arts and Letters

Program Description

The Bachelor of Arts Degree in Photography major is comprised of coursework from the Department of Design within the College of Arts and Letters at California State University, Sacramento. The program is administered by the Department of Design, which also offers degrees in Graphic Design and Interior Design. The Photography program is the only B.A. granting program specializing in photography in the CSU system. The program’s curriculum engages students in relevant photographic technical and aesthetic concerns, as well as the history and theory of photographic practice, past and present. The program's goal is to ground students in the rich variety of cultural practices necessary to be an effective visual communicator in today’s wide and varied field.

Special Features

  • The Department of Design offers student scholarships.
  • Among the facilities available for Photography students is a large digital lab furnished with Macintosh computers, large format inkjet printers, and film and flatbed scanners. There is also an alternative process facility, a well-equipped chemical darkroom, and a studio lighting facility.
  • The Photography program has a generous collection of equipment available for student checkout that includes small, medium and large format cameras, various lenses, tripods, and portable lighting equipment.
  • A Design Department gallery on the 4th floor of Mariposa Hall that regularly exhibits student work.

Career Possibilities

Photography is one of the most widely used forms of visual communication in our world today. As the technology to create and share visual imagery has become more accessible and expedient, photographs have taken on a vital role in how we share complex visual information. We use it both to form and communicate the sense of who and what we are via social media, and it is an important tool in the material and mental exploration and interpretation of our world. The Photography degree at Sacramento State prepares students to thoughtfully engage in the production, interpretation, and presentation of photographic images, asking them to consider how these images can be created and used in the world, whether in personal, social, or professional contexts.  While gaining technical skills in the production of photographs, students engage rigorously in the conceptual discourse surrounding photographic images (their use and meaning) and are encouraged to consider the application of photographs broadly and with flexibility. Students who earn a degree in Photography can bring this expertise to all career fields, whether these are the more traditional photographic careers that occur in the fine arts, commercial photography, journalism, or editorial work, or in the any of the myriad professions that need and rely on photographic imagery to help define, gather, and assess information, or communicate who and what they are.

Contact Information

Andrew Anker, Chair, Department of Design
Rhonda Franks, Administrative Support Coordinator
Mariposa Hall 5001
(916) 278-3962
FAX (916) 278-6116




Undergraduate Program

Bachelor of Arts Degree

Units Required for the Major: 45 units
Minimum total units required for the BA: 120

Required Lower Division Core Courses (15 Units)
ART 1BArt in the Western World: From Renaissance to Baroque3
GPHD 10Introduction to Digital Design3
INTD 20Design3
PHOT 11Digital Imaging3
PHOT 40Basic Techniques of Photography3
Required Upper Division Core Courses (30 Units)
PHOT/ART 101Photography, Inception to Mid-Century3
PHOT 102Photography, a Social History3
PHOT 111Intermediate Digital Imaging3
PHOT 141Intermediate Black and White Photography3
PHOT 148Artificial Light, Studio3
PHOT 149Artificial Light, Location3
PHOT 155Advanced Photography Techniques3
PHOT 165Issues in Contemporary Photographic Practice3
PHOT 175Studio Topics in Photography3
PHOT 180Senior Portfolio3
Total Units45

How to Read Course Descriptions

PHOT 11.     Digital Imaging. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Arts (Area C1)

Acquaints students with digital photographic equipment and techniques. Lecture and demonstrations will cover hardware (cameras, computers, scanners and printers) and software used to create digital images. Ethical and legal issue will be discussed. Portfolio of digital photographs created in the computer lab required.

PHOT 20.     The Photographic Self. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Understanding Personal Development (E)

Focuses on photography's influence on notions of self from its inception in 1938 to the present. Enhances students' understanding of how and why photography became the powerful and ubiquitous tool that shaped a new form of visual self-expression.

PHOT 40.     Basic Techniques of Photography. 3 Units

Introduction to basic camera and darkroom techniques. Concepts of visual organization, design and using light effectively are emphasized. Lecture two hours; laboratory three hours.

PHOT 101.     Photography, Inception to Mid-Century. 3 Units

Introduces students to the history of photography, from inception to Mid-20th Century. Practices of photographers and artists, working with photographic technologies, will be discussed. The course examines photographic vision and the impact of the medium through lectures and readings by art historians and photographers.

Cross-listed: ART 101.

PHOT 102.     Photography, a Social History. 3 Units

Examines photographic vision and the impact of the medium on society through readings by both photographers and photographic critics. Establishes the importance of photography as a contemporary medium, explores the development of photographic vision and the relationship between photographs and cultural events. Lecture/discussion.

PHOT 111.     Intermediate Digital Imaging. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 11 and PHOT 40; declared Photography majors only

Corequisite(s): PHOT 141 and PHOT 101

Covers intermediate to advanced concepts and techniques in digital photographic imaging, providing students with the ability to explore both new and previously mastered software and hardware applications. Emphasis is on using digital techniques to create and print effective and imaginative color photographs. Lectures and demonstrations cover capture, manipulation, color management and pre-press techniques for a variety of output devices.

PHOT 141.     Intermediate Black and White Photography. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 11 and PHOT 40; declared Photography majors only

Corequisite(s): PHOT 111 and PHOT 101

This course focuses on the development of the photographer's vision through the Zone System, black and white materials and the 4X5 view camera. The Zone System is used to control negative exposure and contrast, enhance print pre-visualization and to create quality gelatin-silver prints. Though this class concentrates on advancing student's technical proficiency a significant portion of the class is dedicated to aesthetic concerns in photography.

PHOT 148.     Artificial Light, Studio. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 111 and PHOT 141

Corequisite(s): PHOT 102 and PHOT 155

A commercially oriented course with assignments covering such topics as food, fashion and products photographed with artificial light in the studio. Business, legal and ethical practices in commercial and editorial photography are discussed as they apply to work done in a studio setting. Students are expected to become visually and technically competent with artificial light sources used in a studio setting.

PHOT 149.     Artificial Light, Location. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 148 and PHOT 155

Corequisite(s): PHOT 165

A location lighting course covering the use of artificial light and non-studio photography. Assignments cover such topics as: interior and exterior architecture, food and fashion shot on location. Techniques for combining the use of hot lights, electronic flash and ambient light are discussed. Students will use a body of work demonstrating their visual and technical understanding of artificial light sources for editorial and commercial application.

PHOT 155.     Advanced Photography Techniques. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 111 and PHOT 141

Corequisite(s): PHOT 102 and PHOT 148

Explores advanced techniques in the production of photographic imagery, with special emphasis on the hybridization of photographic processes. Lectures cover advanced chemical and digital photographic procedures in camera use and printing techniques. Students must demonstrate a high level of visual awareness and technical competency, and must be willing to take risks in the creative application of photographic processes.

PHOT 161.     Photography in the Field. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 141 or instructor permission.

The class visits specific sites followed by a group critique of the resulting photographic work. The course objective is to examine how one situation can be interpreted by many varied sensibilities, broadening the artist's visual vocabulary. Students are required to create visually unified portfolio that demonstrates a sense of place.

Cross-listed: ART 161.

PHOT 162.     Alternative Photographic Processes. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 141 or instructor permission.

Studio course exploring alternative photographic processes that may include: printing-out paper, new cyanotype, argyrotype, and platinum-palladium. Slide discussions, individual and class critiques.

Cross-listed: ART 162.

PHOT 163.     Pinhole Photography. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 40 or equivalent.

Intermediate course investigating the theory, history, and practice of pinhole photography. Use of student-made pinhole cameras of varying focal lengths using black and white and color materials. Emphasis on creative approach in both camera making and image formation, supported by intermediate-level photographic technique. Individual final portfolios and group exhibition of cameras and prints at conclusion of course.

Cross-listed: ART 163.

PHOT 165.     Issues in Contemporary Photographic Practice. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 148 and PHOT 155

Corequisite(s): PHOT 149

Covers advanced problems in the process of creating photographic work. Emphasis is on the ways which content/form relationships within a body of work are informed by the artist's conceptual and material engagement, as well as the way in which process and context shape meaning in photographic work. Course centers on readings in contemporary theory and aesthetics, discussion, the production of photographic work, and critique.

PHOT 175.     Studio Topics in Photography. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 149 and PHOT 165

Corequisite(s): PHOT 180

This class is a broad investigation of photography's potential. Each semester the class concentrates on a photographic strategy including but not limited to: documentary, journalism, fabrication, image and text, and the archive. Students are introduced to photography's varied application, new developments and conversations in the medium. Readings and discussions will enlist a range of theoretical and critical approaches. Course center on readings, discussion, production of photographic work and critique.

PHOT 180.     Senior Portfolio. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHOT 149 and PHOT 165

Corequisite(s): PHOT 175

A senior level course aimed at furthering student's knowledge of postgraduate opportunities. The required final portfolio of images will reflect the student's photographic education, experience and area of expertise. The content and format of this portfolio will depend on the student's future academic or professional goals.

PHOT 195.     Internship In Photography. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): A minimum of two upper division photography courses.

Directed observation and work experience with public agencies, organizations, publications, design or photography studios. Fieldwork is offered to give students experience, personal contacts and orientation in the area of professional photography. Supervision is provided by faculty and the cooperating community employer. Students are required to maintain a detailed record of activities and report regularly to the supervising faculty member. To receive credit the selected activity must be approved prior to adding the course. Ten hours weekly.

Credit/No Credit

PHOT 199.     Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units

Individual projects or directed readings in photography. Open to students who are working at an advanced level of photography and competent to carry on individual work.

Credit/No Credit

PHOT 299.     Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): Requires instructor approval.

Individual projects or directed readings in photography for graduate level students. Open to students who are working at an advanced level of photography and competent to carry on individual work.

Credit/No Credit