Photography Classroom

Photographic Technology - Commercial Photography

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Do you have an interest in advertising and photography? Enter the fun, creative and rewarding world of commercial photography through the Commercial Photography concentration of our Photographic Technology program. You'll study advertising photography and product illustration; studio and location camera techniques and lighting; model, food, and architectural photography; layout specifications and art direction; corporate and stock photography; digital imaging applications; and current commercial business practices.

Business practices, tools, techniques, and applications are all explored via demonstrations, assignments, and on-the-job internships. When you graduate, you will be thoroughly prepared to successfully perform the duties required for numerous positions within the commercial photography industry.


Courses for this A.A.S. degree program are offered day, evening, online and/or hybrid, with the exception of PHO courses. They are only offered during the day.

First Year: Fall Semester (13 Semester Hours Credit)

  • ACA 111 - College Student Success
  • ENG 111 - Writing and Inquiry
  • PHO 110 - Fundamentals of Photography
  • PHO 112 - Design Laboratory I
  • ---- Humanities/Fine Arts

First Year: Spring Semester (13 Semester Hours Credit)

First Year: Summer Session (9 Semester Hours Credit)

  • ENG 114 - Prof Research and Reporting OR COM 110 - Introduction to Communications OR ENG 112 - Writing/Research in the Disc
  • PHO 139 - Introduction to Digital Imaging
  • PHO 143 - Multimedia I

Second Year: Fall Semester (14 Semester Hours Credit)

  • MAT 110 - Math Measurement & Literacy OR MAT 143 - Quantitative Literacy
  • PHO 215 - Photographic Illustration
  • PHO 241 - Digital Image Technology
  • WBL 112N - Work-Based Learning I - PHOCP

Second Year: Spring Semester (14 Semester Hours Credit)

  • PHO 220 - Business of Photography
  • PHO 229 - Advertising Photography
  • PHO 244 - Multimedia II Commercial Photo
  • WBL 122N - Work-Based Learning II - PHOCP

Second Year: Summer Session (5 Semester Hours Credit)

  • ---- Social/Behavior Science
  • PHO 231 - Commercial Portfolio Preparation

Total Semester Hours Credit: 68

Art 111 or ART 114 is the preferred Humanities/Fine Arts Course.

Students will take WBL-112N and WBL-122N.

Upon successful completion of all Photographic Technology Concentrations, the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to control photographic exposure.
  • Execute photographic imaging processes.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in digital photography workflow.
  • Utilize lighting equipment.
  • Utilize design elements to produce photographs.

Commercial Photography is a concentration under the curriculum title of Photographic Technology. This curriculum provides in-depth study of professional commercial photography. Its segments, business practices, tools, techniques, and applications are explored via demonstrations, assignments, and on-the-job internships.

Course work includes photographic theory, design concepts, understanding photographic materials and processes, digital asset management, and an in-depth study of advertising photography and product illustration; studio and location camera techniques and lighting; model, food, and architectural photography; layout specifications and art direction; corporate and stock photography; digital imaging applications; and current commercial business practices.

Graduates should be thoroughly prepared to successfully perform the duties required in entry-level positions within the commercial photography industry.

Faculty and students are required to demonstrate proficiency of these functions in the Photographic Technology – Commercial Photography program. The essential functions include:

  1. Critical Thinking: ability sufficient to gather relevant information, interpret real time scenarios, recognize problems, and use a process to make informed, independent decisions that show good judgment and follow the laws and ethics relative to the professional portrait/wedding industry.
  2. Interpersonal Skills: interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact with co-workers and clients of any age group, function and contribute as part of a team, be accountable for self and others, and maintain appropriate hygiene for an office environment.  The ability to interact effectively with the public and other industry representatives such as art directors and stylists.
  3. Communication Skills: ability to speak English, write English, listen and comprehend written and spoken words, and communicate information and ideas so others will understand.
  4. Mobility: must be able to walk, sit or stand for long periods, climb step ladders, squat, walk briskly or jog. Also must be able to kneel and get up and down from the floor or ground.
  5. Motor Skills: manual dexterity as needed for editing images, audio capture and video. Possessing finger and manual dexterity necessary to link variously sized cables to devices and devices to various surfaces, change camera lenses, battery packs, manipulate computer peripherals and other office equipment.
  6. Hearing: ability to hear sounds at a close range (within a few feet of the observer). Be able to hear and respond to an instructor or other students in a classroom.
  7. Visual: ability to see with normal or corrected vision to 20/20, tolerate working indoors in artificial light and the glare of computer screens. Have the ability to look at a computer screen/video monitor for long periods of time. Be able to withstand repeated exposure to firing strobe lights.
  8. Tactile: ability to perform physical activities that require use of hands and arms. 
  9. Weight-Bearing: be able to bear the weight of a normal camera bag/backpack, c-stands, sandbags, etc. (35-65 lbs.)
  10. Cognitive: ability to use logic and reason, attention to detail, and short-term and long­ term memory skills. The ability to remember a concept covered in a class in a previous week of a semester.
  11. Visual Color Discrimination: ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness. (Being able to color correct still images and video capture.)
  12. Information Ordering: ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations). For example, being able to enact digital asset management with capture files (audio, still, video).
  13. Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge: keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  14. Repairing: repairing machines or systems using the needed tools. Example is using a wrench, ratchet, screwdriver, etc.
  15. Equipment Maintenance: performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed. Example is scheduled preventive maintenance.
  16. Troubleshooting: determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it. Example is examining and finding the cause of the problem.
  17. Critical Thinking: using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. Example is to determine the necessary steps to solving the problem.
  18. Equipment Selection: determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job. Understanding the which focal lengths would be best for a given situation as well as microphone types, lighting choices.
  19. Operation Monitoring: comprehend histograms and remote camera/strobe operations.
  20. Reading Comprehension: understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents. Example is reading a technical manual or shot sheet.
  21. Reaction Time: ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears. Example is to be able to react to changes in action during fashion sessions to capture peak action.
  22. Control Precision: ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of imaging equipment. Example is being able to shift exposure controls under changing light conditions.
  23. Manual Dexterity: ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects. Be able to assemble light stands, light units, grip equipment, tripods and monopods.
  24. Arm-Hand Steadiness: ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position. The ability to hold photographic equipment in a manner steady enough for professional results.
  25. Finger Dexterity: ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects. Example is to be able to start a nut on a screw.
  26. Near Vision: ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer). Example is watching the audio levels on a digital display or reading image data during tethered capture.
  27. Hearing Sensitivity: ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness. Example is to be able to listen to a motor and determine if it is running properly.
  28. Multi-Limb Coordination: ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion. Example is the ability to rig lights, change out modifiers or replace a lamp or strobe tube that has been determined to be bad.
  29. Problem Sensitivity: ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem. Example is to be able to determine is a problem is present in an operation of a machine.
  30. Physical skills: physical abilities sufficient to perform photographic skills in a hot (90+degree) and cold environment, dexterity to capture images in all positions (standing, prone, leaning against an object, seated, kneeling,) at floor level and use ladders at heights 3 feet to six feet and above, ability to use hand tools such as DSLR systems, light stands, C-stands, mono-block and continuous lighting kits, computer keyboards, mixing board knobs and sliders, rigging equipment, jibs, cranes, sliders,
  31. Listening: listening skills sufficient to give full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate and not interrupting at inappropriate times. For example, listening to faculty and customers' assessment of problem.
  32. Monitoring: monitoring ability sufficient to monitor/assess performance of yourself, others, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. For example, being able to recognize defects and being able to repair it.
  33. Photosensitivity: must be able to withstand multiple/repetitive strobe exposures and flickering lights. (Not be prone to photosensitivity seizures.)



Randolph Community College is an ADA compliant institution. The College does not discriminate on the basis of disability in the admissions process or in access to its programs, services and/or activities for qualified individuals who meet essential eligibility requirements. The College will provide reasonable accommodations for documented disabilities of individuals who are eligible to receive or participate in college programs, services and/or activities. Student Services provides a disability counselor to assist students in requesting disability related accommodations. If a student believes that he/she cannot meet one or more of the essential functions without accommodations, the student is encouraged to disclose the disability to the disability counselor as soon as possible. Students must certify the ability to meet essential functions of the profession by a signed statement in the beginning of the program.


References: Haywood Community College and Vance-Granville Community College Technical Standards directly contributed much of this language.  Minor alterations have been made as needed to relate to RCC.

Photographic Technology Fast Facts

A photography program ranked as one of the best on the East Coast. A state of the art newly renovated 37,000 square foot facility with ample studio space and modern computer labs. Over 50 years of experience in training some of the best photographers in the country in three disciplines — Commercial Photography, Photojournalism, and Portrait and Wedding Photography.

Full-time tuition (16 or more credit hours/semester):

In State (North Carolina)

  • $1,216/Semester*

Out of State

  • $4,288/Semester*

*approx. based on 2015-2016 academic year

  • 35,500-square-foot lab & studio
  • Four digital imaging computer labs
  • Black and white film/print, C41 lab
  • Extensive film, digital, and a/v equipment

Four full-time faculty/staff plus adjunct faculty serving up to 140 students annually.

Due to the amount of training required for use of the facilities and available equipment, all photography students start in the fall with ACA 111, PHO 110, and PHO 112. These courses are the pre-requisites for PHO courses that follow.

  • Two-year Associate Degree
  • 21-24 photography courses depending upon concentration
  • 6 semester, daytime, year-round curriculum and internships
  • Curriculum can be taken part time

Julia Dean, Jim DiVitale, Katrin Eismann, Lois Greenfield, Gregory Heisler, David Kennerly, Matthew Lewis, Charles Moore, Arnold Newman, Stewart Powers, Chip Simons and Michael Traister

(part of each concentration)

Examples of past internships:

  • Black Star
  • Nick Vedros
  • Stewart Powers
  • Lisa Valle Evans
  • Michael Grecco
  • Jim Erickson
  • Smithsonian
  • Chip Simons
  • Duke University Medical Center

  • American Society of Media Photographers
  • National Press Photographers Association
  • Southern Short Course in News Photography
  • Photo Marketing Association International
  • Professional Photographers of America
  • Wedding & Portrait Photographers International
  • Professional Photographers of NC Society for Photographic Education

Contact Us!

Have more questions about the Commerical Photography Program? We're here to help.

Dhanraj Emanuel
Instructor, Photographic Technology

Kevin Eames
Department Head, Photography Programs

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