About the Photography Program
Our mission is to prepare you for a rewarding career as a creative professional in the world of commercial photography. We teach you how to use professional photography equipment, techniques for image control, creative direction, lighting techniques, and image manipulation. You will learn how to capture images using both digital SLR cameras, and traditional film cameras. Our curriculum integrates the current industry standard software, including Photoshop, Lightroom, and Capture One. All of these learning components are designed to help you work toward a Certificate of Achievement or Associate in Arts degree in photography, and prepare you for a career behind the camera.
As you study and practice your photography skills, you will learn that professional photographers often specialize in a particular subject matter or genres including advertising, editorial, fashion, architecture, landscape, wildlife, food, events, sports, portrait photography, photojournalism, and more. Apart from your independent practice, you will also learn to work in teams and collaborate on exciting multimedia projects to include in your digital photography portfolio.
Many colleges and universities offer baccalaureate degrees in this field. Students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university need to know which courses completed at Santa Monica College will be accepted at the specific college/university. Please consult a Counselor. SMC has transfer articulation agreements with the many UC and CSU campuses, as well as many private and out-of-state institutions.
Degrees and Certificates
Associate Degree - Photography
40 Units + General Education
Certificate of Achievement - Photography
Students completing the program in Photography will demonstrate the ability to analyze and assess photographic situations, solve technical problems, and overcome creative challenges as they arise in photographic production. Students will further design and construct photographic images that can communicate ideas or narratives effectively for commercial, editorial or fine art purposes. Additionally, the student will have the knowledge and skills pertinent to the operation of a freelance photography business and sound business practices in the trade.
Potential Career Options
|Job Title||Typical Education||Median Wage|
|Photographer||High School Diploma or More||
|Digital Photo Content Specialist||High School Diploma or More||
|Photo/Video Specialist||High School Diploma or More||$73,700|
|Digital Photography Retoucher||High School Diploma or More||$64,673|
|Advertising Photographer||High School Diploma or More||$58,074|
|Wedding Photographer||High School Diploma or More||$55,210|
|Photo Processing Technician||High School Diploma or More||$34,400|
Learn more about becoming a photographer.
Title image by SMC student Pat Simmons