Digital Photography IDL

Through the Digital Photography IDL program, students will learn the essentials of photography in its digital format. Modern technology will be used to provide students with a hands-on education in all facets of photography production.

Through a number of courses, a broad range of professional digital photography is taught, including topics related to camera operation, proper framing, and the editing process. Then, under the guidance of industry professionals, students will build their abilities in each subject as they prepare for entry-level work in the photography business.

Throughout their time enrolled in our program, students will be graded and held accountable for the projects they complete. In addition, students are kept interested in the material in the instructor’s lecture with regular drills, labs, assessments, and quizzes. The fundamental goal of F.I.R.S.T. Institute is straightforward: to give students the best possible education and motivate them to succeed in professional digital photography.

Prerequisite: Basic Mac and Internet competencies. High School level English or higher.

Delivery Methodology: Online = 100% Online

Average Class Size: 16 Students

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates obtain a Diploma.

Thirty-Nine (39) Weeks – 1014 Clock Hours / 91.26 Academic Quarter Credit Hours

811 Hours / 81.11 Academic Quarter Credit Hours – Instruction 203 / 10.15 Academic Quarter Credit Hours – Lab

Students in our IDL program are required to purchase a Creative P.A.K. to use during the course of their program and beyond. The digital media industry and its relevant technology are ever-changing, so specific items in your Creative P.A.K. may be updated from time to time. Specific items are not guaranteed. Contact the school for more information.

You can find an up-to-date list here.


Total: $2,650


Gear included in the P.A.K.

  • FUJIFILM X-T30 II Mirrorless Camera with 18-55mm Lens (Black)

  • Godox TT350 Flash for FUJIFILM Cameras

  • Vello Mini Softbox

  • FotodioX LED Studio-In-a-Box (20 x 20")

  • FUJIFILM XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II Lens (Black)

  • Lexar 128GB Professional 1667x UHS-II SDXC Memory Card

  • Neewer 4-Light Kit with Background Support System

  • K&F Concept Variable Fader ND2-ND400 Filter (58mm)

  • Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Circular Reflector with Handles (22")


Students are required to be prepared for class. This includes having these items at all times: pen, writing paper/notebook, ID badge, and all required materials for their program. The following required items are not included in the tuition. It is the student’s responsibility to purchase the items for use on the first day of class.

  • Hard Drive
    • USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 drives only.
    • Minimum storage size 1TB
      • Example: Western Digital Elements Mac 1TB (Approximately $50 from Amazon, comes with adapter)
  • SD Card
    • Minimum size 16GB
    • Maximum size 32GB
      • Example: SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SDHC UHS-I Card (Approximately $15 on Amazon)
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
    • Student Discounts Available 


Computer Requirements 

  • Operating System: macOS 10.15 or macOS Big Sur (11.*), mac OS Monterey (12.*)
  • Processor: Intel or Apple Silicon (Rosetta2 Supported)
  • RAM: 8 GB of RAM (16 GB Recommended)
  • Hard Drive Space: 256 GB with minimum 40 GB available
  • Monitor Resolution: 1440x900
  • Webcam: Yes - used for attendance and exams
  • Microphone: Yes - used or class participation
  • Internet: Broadband or higher from your internet service provider (minimum 100 Mbps) for your computer or any other device to access Canvas materials.

Intro to the Camera and Lightroom goes over the fundamental building blocks students need to succeed in the Photography Program as a whole. This course is broken out into various segments; for the first week of Intro to the Camera and Lightroom, students will be going over basic computer skills needed for the program. In the weeks to follow, the program will segue into gaining experience with the Adobe Creative Suite, which is widely used in the photography industry. Students will then be introduced to the history of the camera and the photographic process, and its relation to the development of the modern digital process. Students will also learn about the evolution of cameras and how they have developed over time. Students begin to learn about the exposure triangle, which introduces many mechanical and electronic functions of the camera. The class will then learn about lenses, first in terms of angle of view, followed by the specialty functions of different lens types. This course will also review the basics of lighting and composition. Once the students have taken photos, they are taught how to use Adobe Lightroom and to see how it has replaced traditional film development processes in the digital space.


DP 101 – Intro To The Camera and Lightroom

  • Build your own Camera Project
  • Exposure Triangle Project

A large part of photography is understanding what makes a desirable or undesirable photo. Within the Composition and Aesthetics course, students begin to learn the visual language of photography; how it influences and appeals to the human eye. Instructors will teach the common principles of design such as balance, rhythm and repetition, emphasis, proportion, and scale, as well as harmony and contrast. They will use these principles to study the philosophy of aesthetics and identify common patterns. Students will analyze these patterns, such as Phi and how it is applied to photography using the Golden Ratio and the Rule of Thirds. Students will learn other common compositional techniques as well, such as using leading lines to guide the eye, creating frames within the frame, and using contrast to direct attention. Lastly, students will explore color theory as it relates to human psychology as well as the physics of light.


DP 102 – Composition and Aesthetics

  • Frame up Project
  • Leading Lines Project

This course is a deep dive into studio lighting. Study Photography focuses on the key fundamentals of lighting through studio portraiture and product photography. Students will begin by mastering 3-point lighting techniques. They will gain hands-on experience with various tools such as studio strobes and light modifiers. They will then study other lighting styles by looking at both modern photo portraits as well as examples from classical art. Students will replicate some of these lighting techniques, such as Loop, Butterfly, Rembrandt, and Chiaroscuro on real-life models. Students will study the works of iconic portrait photographers such as George Hurrell, Annie Leibovitz, Diane Arbus, and Richard Avedon. Within this course, students will learn how to market a product to the general public through product photography. This course will cover both minimalist and active product photography. Students will become familiar with common product photography tools such as tripods, cyc walls, and macro lenses.

DP 103 – Studio Photography

  • Painting with Light Project
  • Identity Prop Portrait
  • Product Drop Project

Spatial Photography is a course that will help students understand various techniques of landscape, street, and architectural photography. In the Spatial Photography course, students will learn to illustrate the essence of scene.They'll learn how to emphasize depth in a enviroment through lens choice, depth of field, and use of foreground elements. This course will also cover how to utilize filters, long exposure, weather and time of day to evoke theirimpression of the natural spaces around them. Students will then move into urban enviorments where they will use the same techniques to document humna-made inventions, tructures, and enviorments. They will be taught to find interesting and un explored perspectives. As street photographers, they will learn to isolate movement within these spaces to document incidental moments of life. Throughout this course, students will also survey the history of photographers whose work focuses on the spaces in our lives, from Ansel Adams to Henri Cartier-Bresson to Vivian
Maier to Jason Lee and more.


DP 104 – Spatial Photography (Landscape, Street, and Architecture)


  • A Day in the Park Project
  • Urban Reflections Project
  • Gallery Project

In Photoshop for Digital Editing and Experimental Photography, students will learn non-destructive Photoshop processes and tools including blend modes, adjustment layers, color channels, effects, and filters. Using these tools students will learn to composite, retouch photos, create multiple exposures, and digitally replicate the effects of specialty optical equipment. In this course, students will be exposed to the many new features that use neural networks and artificial intelligence to extend the limit of photo manipulation and even create images from scratch. Students will learn how to replicate the darkroom and montage techniques that experimental artists such as Man Ray, Harry Callahan, Hannah Höch, and Antonio Mora used. After learning these techniques, the students will then apply them to their ongoing work.


DP 105 – Photoshop for Digital Editing and Experimental Photography

  • Product Retouching Project
  • Portrait Retouching Project
  • Matte Painting Composite Project

In this course students will focus on three practical projects in event photography. First, they will document a social event. Students will create a shooting strategy for the event and create a list of key images that they must photograph. At the event they will shoot a mix of posed, candid, and environmental photos. This will teach them the skills they need to pursue commercial enterprises in wedding and party photography. Next, students will document a staged event. Here they must learn to work in unusual lighting situations which will put their camera skills to the test. They must also learn to collaborate with the production team to complete their work unnoticed and allow performances to continue unimpeded. Finally, students will photograph a sporting event where they will need to focus on lensing and shutter speed to get action photos in a fast-paced and dynamic environment.


RASP 106 – Sound for Visual Media 101

  • Shooting for Social Events Project
  • Shooting for Staged Events Project
  • Shooting for Sports Project

Narrative in Editorial Photography is all about telling a story. Students will look at the work of previous photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Robert Frank, and Gregory Crewdson who have made narrative photography a key component in their work. Students will be analyzing stories by breaking them down into different components to illustrate the intersection of character and plot. Students then learn how a single moment captured in a photo can imply both previous and subsequent moments of cause and effect. Students will create work to compliment articles as well as short series that stand alone as narrative experiences.


DP 107 – Narrative in Editorial Photography

  • Sequential Storytelling Project
  • Creating Character Project

In the final course of this program students focus on the Business of Photography. This course is a survey of common business practices such as brainstorming, concept development, business communications, research and client briefing. The course also goes over digital printing and the importance of print production processes. Later in the course, students will learn about branding fundamentals. This part of the course will examine marketing in relation to corporate and personal branding as well as social media. Students will finish the program by completing a comprehensive portfolio, participating in critique sessions, and finalizing the portfolio on their own website.

RASP 108 – Business of Photography

  • Portfolio Website Project
  • Printed Portfolio Project