Student Experience

At Academy of Art University’s School of Photography, you’ll not only gain the knowledge and skills needed to create stunning, technically proficient photography, you’ll learn how to develop your personal aesthetic to reveal your unique point of view. At the same time, we’ll teach you to curate and assemble a body of your work for exciting exhibition opportunities both within and outside of the University.

To prepare you for a potential career in commercial photography, we’ll teach you how to set up lighting in both studio and on-location settings. You’ll get hands-on training with our state-of-the-art Phase One Camera System, used for advanced digital capture. And there’s no better way to get insight on current tips, tricks, and trends than to hear directly from working photographers in our guest lecturer series.

Image of Photoshoot


Various images of the facilities for the photo department
Check Out Room expand_more
You can borrow a wide range of equipment from our expansive check out room, including digital cameras by Sony, Canon, and Phase One; analog cameras by Hasselblad and Mamiya; 4 x 5 Sinar large-format cameras; professional lighting rigs by Broncolor, ProPhoto, and KinoFlo; and multimedia audio and motion capture gear. EQR technicians are on hand to assist with all of your needs.
Dark Room expand_more
You’ll have access to our traditional black and white group darkrooms for film processing and printing. A large mural darkroom and alternative processing room are available for creative exploration in mural printing, tintype, cyanotype, van dyke, and platinum printing.
Digital Lab expand_more
Access the latest digital imaging hardware in our color-managed Mac lab and use Adobe Creative Cloud to bring your ideas to life. You can scan your negatives with the Hasselblad dedicated large-format film scanners and print your projects using Epson large-format printers. Our facilities feature state-of-the-art equipment used in commercial and fine art photography studios.
Stages and Galleries expand_more
Our 5-story building near Union Square in San Francisco features a first-floor gallery of student and alumni work, an expansive equipment check out room, multiple shooting studios, private photography studios, two analog darkrooms, and a state of the art digital printing lab. Our Washington Street location is the home of “The Cove,” a 2,277- square-foot studio used for large production shoots and our large-format Phase One classes.
Students in a classroom

Summer Intensives

The Best of Both Worlds

The School of Photography offers two dynamic summer intensive courses that let you experience the best of both on-campus and online instruction. You’ll spend one week on campus with us in San Francisco getting to know your instructor and fellow students in a hands-on, immersive classroom experience. Then, for the next six weeks, you’ll take your newly gained skills home with you and attend class online.

The Summer Intensives are a great way to get familiar with all of the School’s incredible facilities while learning how to create a home photography studio to support your ongoing class work.

Summer Lighting Intensive. You will work on campus in the lighting studios using a variety of professional lighting equipment, learning how to apply these skills in your home studio for the duration of the course. (This course is cross-listed with PH 499L.) Upon completion of this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Produce technically proficient images using various lighting strategies using strobe and mixed lighting
  • Identify what lighting style is right for each subject
  • Apply tools to modify and balance various types of light
  • Apply different lighting setups to enhance specific moods and concepts
  • Use filters and gels for special effects and color correction
  • Apply a cohesive personal lighting style to a final portfolio (graduate students)

Summer Printing Intensive. Spend a week on campus learning digital printing in our digital printing labs. Then, with ongoing guidance, you’ll learn how to perfect your prints in your home digital studio. (This course is cross-listed with PH 499P.) Upon completion of this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Produce professional quality prints that demonstrate proficiency in color accurate reproduction from original image
  • Demonstrate proficiency in color correction
  • Apply advanced printing techniques for output and presentation
  • Use a non-destructive image processing workflow
  • Utilize color-management techniques and apply ICC profiles to produce consistent and accurate printing
  • Develop and create master files
  • Create a cohesive print portfolio with consistency across a body of work (graduate students)

Study Abroad

Summer Program – Florence, Italy

The Study Abroad Summer program in Europe exposes students to the art of featured regions within the broader context of European history and artistic culture. As a student in the School of Photography, you’ll have the opportunity to explore and capture the extraordinary architecture, monuments, and local sights of Florence, Italy. You’ll visit the extensive collections of paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects housed in some of Europe’s most renowned museums.

The program in Florence takes place during seven weeks of our summer semester. Classes are offered Monday through Thursday.

Program Highlights:

  • Tuition credits
  • Day excursions to small Italian towns
  • On-location classes led by Academy instructors
  • Exploration of different mediums, techniques, styles, and subjects
  • Museum visits


Canon Explorer of Light

Join us on Thursday, November 9th to celebrate the photography of Roberto Valenzuela. Sponsored by Canon.

Poster for Canon Explorer of Light Event

Student Interviews

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