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COURSE NAME: "Digital Photography"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Federica Valabrega
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TH9:00 AM 11:45 AM

This course is meant for students who wish to deepen their knowledge of digital photography. It will review basic camera functions, lighting, principles of composition and pictorial dynamics, color interactions, and introduce methods of the elaboration of photos on the computer. The course will consider the historical and formal knowledge of photography, as well as including picture-taking in a variety of genres and the preparation of a photo exhibition. Each student must be equipped with a digital camera with a wide lens or a 3x or greater optical zoom, and camera functions selector which includes M,A,S,P. A tripod and modern single-lens reflex (SLR) digital cameras with interchangeable lenses are highly recommended.

This is an introductory class that will concentrate on teaching students how to develop their own practical and creative skills in photography. A variety of subjects will be covered within the course, including an understanding of the history behind the photography practice, how to produce a photographic essay and prepare a portfolio, along with individual and group image critiques and assignments in and outside of the classroom. Students will gain an understanding of the basic concepts of photography: how cameras and lenses work; image composition; lighting conditions and techniques; shooting on location and or in studio; techniques for working as a photographer in a variety of genres; professional ethics; editing and producing photographs; building a portfolio of images; participating in individual and group critiques. The course will also introduce students to a basic level of digital image retouching and manipulation for printing and preparing a final photo exhibition.


This is a course in digital photography and digital imaging, composed of 14 sessions (each being 2,45 hours long), divided in two main parts:


- Theoretical and technical: the basic principles of photography, visualizing the photo, lighting techniques and digital workflow. How to develop your idea, understanding what an interesting subject for you is and crafting your photographic style.


- Practical: including fieldworks where you will be applying what you’ve learned in the theory lessons. This part will also include a variety of skills to be able to edit and retouch selected images for a final project/exhibition.


Course Requirements

  • Digital single lens reflex (DSLR) or mirrorless camera with manual adjustments of f-stop and shutter speed
  • SD memory card(s) 8GB+ 

·       Learn how to operate a digital camera properly.

·       Learn what digital photography is and the history behind it.

·       Learn to photograph is divers lighting conditions: natural and artificial ones.

·       Develop the practical and intellectual skills to make a personal photographic essay selecting the best          images within the semester.

·       Develop analytical skills to critique each other’s work constructively.



Mid-term ExamAn in-class critique of image selection.20%
Final PresentationFinal Presentation Students are expected to be shooting an average of 20 images per week to produce at least 5 new images to show per critique. The final presentation consists of editing the work over the course of the semester in digital & printed form and should reflect an understanding of in-class critiques. Also, a final essay will be assigned on a topic TBA. 30%
Proficiency & ParticipationIncludes technical proficiency both in camera and with editing software, in-class participation and improvement of photographic vocabulary. Students should show teacher a digital contact sheets of all new images made for review.50%

AWork of this quality shows excellent mastery of the course content along with exceptional levels of technical skill, artistic awareness, originality, resourcefulness, commitment, quantity of work and improvement. There has been excellent collaboration and leadership in group projects, and there have been no attendance problems.
BA highly competent level of performance with work that directly addresses the content of the course, with a good quantity of work produced.
CAn acceptable level of performance: the work shows awareness of the course content, but is very limited in quantity, quality, commitment and skill.
DThe student lacks a coherent grasp of the course material and has failed to produce much work.
FNegligent in attendance, academic honesty, engagement with the course content, or production of work.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Session 1 –First day of class: Introduction. Getting inspired by looking at professional photographers’ work. Overview of syllabus, requirements, expectations, and review of students’ equipment. Grade policy discussion.

Session 2 - The basic principles of photography I: basic camera controls, set-ups (please review your manual prior to class). Small intro to the history of the great photographers that came before us. Weekly assignment began today.


Session 3 -The basic principles of photography II. The basics of composition, framing the subject, geometrical design elements, rule of thirds. The digital workflow I. Data capture, file management, basic corrections in Lightroom: how to create your own photography catalogue (contact sheet). Composition exercise at home.


Session 4 -The basic principles of photography III. How to see and understand light. Learn how to take advantage of all lighting condition while taking photos. The difference of color and black and white images and why we choose one instead than the other. Lighting assignment at home.


Session 5 -The digital workflow II. Non-destructive image processing, working with RAW files, histograms, masks, dodging and burning. Fieldwork assignment all together outside of class.


Session 6 -Group critique of fieldwork assignment images. Students present a selection of photographs to the class. Discussion of student’s work.


Session 7 -The basic principles of photography IV. What makes a collection of images a photo essay and how do we sequence images to tell a story. In class editing and sequencing of images in a short story form in preparation of Mid-Term Critique. At home assignment: tell a story in 3 images.


Session 8 -Mid-Term Critique: Analysis and screening of students’ photos. At home assignment TBA.


Session 9 -The digital workflow III. In class editing, retouching, and resizing of images taken at home the prior weeks and preparing them for print. Fieldwork assignment all together outside of class.


Session 10 - The digital workflow IV. Laser ink-jet printing in class. Beginning to develop collectively a coherent sequence for the Final Project/Exhibit.


Session 11 -Fieldwork assignment all together in the light studio adjacent to class. The basic principles of photography V. Lesson on what an Artist statement is and how do you write one. Write your own Artist statement at home.


Session 12 - Artist statement review. Revising subject and previous images for the final project and work on titling the photo essay and writing two paragraphs explaining it.


Session 13 - Review explanatory paragraph on the personal projects in class. Work on the final essay at home.


Session 14 - The basic principles of photography VI. Setting-up your own exhibits: what’s necessary, talk about a curatorial message and presentation of your work to the public. Review the final essay in class.


Session 15 - Collective critique the Final project. Presentation and review of students’ photographic projects, artist statements and final essays. Critically evaluate the work presented by fellow students.