Digital Photography IDL

Digital Photography IDL is a program designed to teach students all aspects of digital photography including lighting, picture staging and capture, editing, and the business of photography. From basic introductory to more advanced classes, students will receive hands-on education using up-to-date technology found in the field and used by professionals for any type of production.

Each stage of production is covered in blocks where students progress through more advanced projects and processes. Students will develop their skills while completing grounded real word projects mirroring the same application they will use in eventual employment.

F.I.R.S.T. Institute students are graded and held accountable for each and every course they encounter. Consistent exercises and quizzes keep students active and interested in the information provided by the instructor.

Prerequisite: Basic computer and internet competencies. High school level English or higher.

Delivery Methodology: Interactive Distance Learning (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

Personal Academic Kit (Included)

Students in our Digital Photography program receive 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.


Gear included in the P.A.K.*

  • Canon EOS R100 Mirrorless Camera with 18-45mm and 55-210mm Lenses Kit

  • Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens (Canon RF)

  • K&F Concept ND2-ND400 Blue Multi-Coated Variable ND Filter (43mm)

  • K&F Concept SA254T2 Lightweight Aluminum Compact Tripod

  • Neewer 4-Light Kit with Background Support System

  • Sabrent USB 3.0 Type-A and Type-C OTG Card Reader

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

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

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

  • Vello Mini Softbox

  • Godox TT350C Mini Thinklite TTL Flash for Canon Cameras


*Specific items are not guaranteed. Contact the school for more information.

Class Materials (Required)
Class Materials (Required)

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.

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Account
    • Student discount is available
    • To receive the student discount you must sign up for the annual plan that is paid monthly. 
    • This includes Adobe Photoshop,  and Adobe Lightroom Classic

Computer Requirements (Click Here)

DP 101 IDL
Intro to the Camera and Lightroom

For the first week of Intro to the Camera and Lightroom, students will be taught a basic level of understanding of computers, their parts, and terminology.


After students have learned the fundamentals of computing and have a good understanding of the different types of digital media formats, students get a sneak peek at the Adobe Creative Suite of Products, which are widely used in the photography industry. F.I.R.S.T. then introduces them to the history of the camera and the photographic process, and its relation to the development of the modern digital process. Students will be taught how cameras have been built over time.


Classes get introduced to the exposure triangle, which introduces many mechanical and electronic functions of the camera. Students will learn about lenses, first in terms of angle of view, followed by the specialty functions of different lens types. The students will also learn the basics of lighting and composition. Once the students have taken photos, they are taught to use Adobe Lightroom and to see how it has replaced traditional film development processes in the digital space.


DP 101IDL – Intro to the Camera and Lightroom

• Build your own Camera Project

• Exposure Triangle Project

DP 102 IDL
Composition and Aesthetics

In Composition and Aesthetics, students will dive deep into the visual language of photography. They will start by learning 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 that hu- mans find pleasing to the eye. They will analyze some of these common patterns such as Phi and how it is applied to photography using the Fibonacci Spiral, 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. Finally, students will explore color theory as it relates to human psychology as well as the physics of light.


DP 102IDL – Composition and Aesthetics

• Frame up Project
• Leading Lines Project

DP 103 IDL
Studio Photography

Studio Photography focuses on the principles of lighting through studio portraiture and product photography. Students begin by learning basic 3-point lighting techniques. They will then study other lighting styles by looking at both modern photo portraiture as well as classical art examples.


Students will learn to use studio strobes and light modifiers. Students will replicate some of these lighting techniques, such as Loop, Butterfly, Rembrandt, and Chiaroscuro, on their models. Emphasis will be placed on the creative and commercial aspects of studio portrait photography.


Students will study the works of some of the great portrait photographers such as George Hurrell, Annie Leibovitz, Diane Arbus, and Richard Avedon. Students will also spend time on product photography explor- ing creative ways to market a product. They will explore both minimalist product photography to isolate their subject as well as active product photography showing the subject in use. Students will become familiar with common product photography tools such as tripods, cyc walls and macro lenses.


DP 103IDL – Studio Photography

  • Painting with Light Project

  • Identity Prop Portrait

  • Product Drop Project

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

In Spatial Photography, students will learn to illustrate the essence of a scene. During their exploration of landscape photography, students will document the beauty of the natural world. They will be taught to emphasize depth in an environment through lens choice, depth of field, and use of foreground elements.


Students will learn to use filters, long exposure, weather, and time of day to evoke their impression of the natural spaces around them.


Students will then move into urban environments where they will use the same techniques to document human-made interventions, structures, and environments. They will be taught to find interesting unexplored perspectives, and isolate small details. 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 a history of photographers whose work focuses on the spaces in our lives, from Ansel Adams to Henri Carter-Bresson to Vivian Maier to Jason Lee and more.


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

• A Day in the Park Project

• Urban Reflections Project

• Gallery Project

DP 105 IDL
Photoshop for Digital Editing and Experimental Photography

Photoshop is capable of digitally replicating the darkroom and montage techniques that experimental artists such as Man Ray, Harry Callahan, Hannah Höch, and Antonio Mora use. Photoshop for Digital Editing and Experimental Photography is an extensive survey of Photoshops many tools through the lens of experimental photography.


Students will learn non-destructive Photoshop processes and tools including blend modes, adjustment layers, color channels, and 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.


Finally, they will be exposed to the many new features that use neural networks and artificial intelligence to better solve for complex photo manipulation and even create images from scratch.


DP 105IDL – Photoshop for Digital Editing and Experimental Photography

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

DP 106 IDL
Event Photography (Social, Stage, Sports)

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 list key images they must photo-graph. 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 photo- graph 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.


DP 106IDL – Event Photography (Social, Stage, and Sports)

• Shooting for Social Events Project

• Shooting for Staged Events Project

• Shooting for Sports Project

DP 107 IDL
Narrative in Editorial Photography

Narrative in Editorial Photography is all about story. Students will look to the work of previous photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Robert Frank, and Gregory Crewdson who have made narrative a key ingredient of their work.


Story will be analyzed and broken down into key components to illustrate the intersection of character and plot. They will analyze how a single moment caught in a photo can imply both previous and subsequent mo- ments of cause and effect. Students will create work to compliment articles as well as short series that stand alone as narrative experiences.


DP 107IDL – Narrative in Editorial Photography

• Sequential Storytelling Project

• Creating Character Project

DP 108 IDL
Business of Photography

In Business of Photography, important skill sets are developed through studies on creative thinking, research and concept development, business communications, client briefing and analysis, digital printing, and the importance of print production processes.


Students learn branding fundamentals and then 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.


DP 108IDL – Business of Photography

• Portfolio Website Project

• Printed Portfolio Project