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Summer: Digital Photography Portfolio

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Gain new skills in digital photography

Develop a portfolio of photographic work, gain new skills in digital photography and grow your existing knowledge of the history, theory and practice of photography. Explore street portraiture, studio portraiture and the urban landscape.

Image of Student Calvin Ma with his photographic work holding two frames in his hands.

In week one you will have three assignments focused on street portraiture, studio portraiture and the urban landscape. For these assignments you will be given introductory lectures by photographers who have created work specialised in these areas who have worked in fashion, editorial, advertising and fine-art photography. The assignments will enhance your creative camera control as well as develop your conceptual awareness. You can work individually, or with your fellow students, to produce visual responses to the brief, coming together at the end of the week to share your results with your tutor and the rest of the class, receiving feedback on your photographs.

Week two will begin with lectures on building your audience and on professional practice in photography. You will be taken on a city walk looking at urban landscape by photographer and writer Lewis Bush who will also give a lecture on contemporary documentary photography. You will be taken to document events in London by documentary photographer Edward Thompson who will help you to research techniques of storytelling and narrative in photography with you either completing a photojournalistic essay or a contemporary photo-series. In week two you will also be given location lighting workshops by fine art and advertising photographer Lottie Davies. There will be technical workshops on digital workflow: editing, sequencing and post-production techniques within editorial photography.

In week three, with what you have learnt from the first two weeks, you will now focus on building your portfolio. You will have 1 to 1 tutorials helping to galvanise your ideas in how to create a body of work that is at the core of who you are and how you want to work in future. You will have technical workshops editing your work for print, producing your own zines and making your own website. In this week you will also visit professional photo-labs and photography supply stores where you can also start to construct a physical photography portfolio.

You will take advantage of the diversity and richness of London’s galleries and museums, and engage in discussions about the practice of photography. By the end of the summer school, you will have generated enough photographic material to create a hard copy portfolio, which will be assessed by your tutors, alongside a photographic industry professional. Your portfolio can then be presented to your friends and family, in a mini-exhibition alongside work by students from Contemporary Photography Practice, Graphic Media Design and Filmmaking summer school students.

During the three week course you will develop enhanced skills in creative camera control; digital workflow; digital retouching skills; shooting in a studio and lighting on location; digital printing skills; an introduction to designing a website; portfolio development; and presentational skills.

Taught by: Edward Thompson with a range of guest tutors and expert practitioners.

Learn more about Summer: Digital Photography Portfolio

Week One:

  • Introduction to the college, course, and facilities
  • Lecture and workshop on DSLR use and optics
  • Lecture on portraiture / editorial street portraiture assignment
  • Technical workshop on studio lighting / lit studio portraiture assignment
  • Research tools workshop / urban landscape assignment
  • A week in review / class critique
  • Gallery visit

Week Two:

  • Developing an audience / professional practice lectures
  • Documentary photography assignment
  • Lecture on contemporary documentary practice
  • Advertising photography lecture / locational lighting workshop
  • City walk
  • Documenting the moment: Creating a photo-essay or photo-series at an event in London
  • Digital workflow workshop: Editing and sequencing
  • Digital postproduction in editorial photography
  • A week in review / class critique
Week Three:
  • Creating a personal portfolio
  • Creating a professional website
  • Site visits to professional photo labs and photographic supply stores
  • Technical workshops on digital printing and making zines
  • Printed portfolios produced and reviewed by a London weekend magazine photo-editor
  • Exhibition and critique
  • Exhibition opening party

Follow On Courses 

Once you have taken this course you may be interested in MA Photography.

Course credits

On completion of this course you will receive a short course certificate of attendance.

If you need any additional supporting documentation to convert this into credit for your home university we can provide that for you. This summer school is based on classes from BA Phototgraphy courses at London College of Communication.

The course is led by Edward Thompson. A professional photographer and lecturer, Thompson has worked on over 600 professional photographic assignments for some of the world’s leading magazines and organisations. His own documentary photography has focused on various subjects over the years from covering environmental issues, socio-political movements, subcultures and the consequences of war. His documentary photo-essays published in international magazines including National Geographic Magazine, Newsweek Japan, Greenpeace Magazine, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, BBC, CNN and The Sunday Times Magazine. He has lectured on photography at the V&A Museum, The Photographers Gallery, The Bishopsgate Institute, L.C.C, The University of Falmouth, The University of Northampton and The University of East London. He speaks regularly on photography on television and radio, including on Al Jazeera News and the BBC World Service. His work has been exhibited at Christies, Somerset House and Four Corners Gallery (London) and shown as part of photography festivals in Arles (France), Tampere (Finland), Zingst (Germany) & London (U.K).

You will also be taught by a range of guest tutors and expert practitioners. Previous visiting tutors on the course include:

Katya Mayer - After graduating from a BA course in Visual Communication in 2002, Katja established a freelance practice as a fashion photographer as well as retoucher and producer in the commercial sector. With a background in post-production management, working for a number of high-end photographers, Katja coordinated high profile campaigns for clients such as French Connection, Chanel, Derek Lam, Karen Millen, Aveda and Puma. Katja recently had her first solo exhibition in London and her work has been shown as part of the group show ‘The Wonders of the Visible World’ at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland. Her commercial clients include: Burberry, COS, Fred Perry, HOBBS, MTV and Procter & Gamble. Her work has appeared in editorials for Dazed & Confused, Harper’s Bazaar Russia, InStyle, Intersection, L’Officiel, USED Magazine, and she has been a regular contributor to Sunday Times Style magazine since 2008.

Lewis Bush - Born in London, United Kingdom, he studied history at the University of Warwick, and then worked abroad in public health with the United Nations Taskforce on HIV/AIDS. Returning to London he studied on the MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication and graduated at the end of 2012. A photographer and writer, he has been published by The Guardian, The British Journal of Photography, Dezeen, The Daily Telegraph, BBC News, Timeout, Harvard Design Magazine, Film Comment Magazine, The Nation, Hyperallergic, Bagnews Notes, American Suburb X, Photomonitor, Hotshoe, The Photographers Gallery Blog, Failed Architecture, B&W Photography Magazine, Of The Afternoon, Tmrw Magazine, Featureshoot, IdeasTap and others. Lewis is currently a lecturer at the London College of Communication. He writes on various photo-related issues on the Disphotic website.

Lottie Davies - Davies’ work is concerned with stories and personal histories, the tales and myths we use to structure our lives: memories, life-stories, beliefs. She takes inspiration from classical and modern painting, cinema and theatre as well as the imaginary worlds of literature. She employs a deliberate reworking of our visual vocabulary, playing on our notions of nostalgia, visual conventions and subconscious ‘looking habits’, with the intention of evoking a sense of recognition, narrative and movement. Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, has described Davies’ work as “brilliantly imaginative”. Davies’ unique style has been employed in a variety of contexts, including newspapers, glossy magazines, books and advertising. She has won recognition in numerous awards, including the Association of Photographers’ Awards, the International Color Awards, and the Schweppes Photographic Portrait Awards. Her work has garnered international acclaim with the image Quints, which won First Prize at the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Awards 2008 at the National Portrait Gallery in London, with Viola As Twins, which won the Photographic Art Award, Arte Laguna Prize in Venice in 2011, and her collaboration on 'Dreams of Your Life' with Hide & Seek/Film 4.0 which was BAFTA-nominated in 2012.

Course Handbook: Download an example course handbook for Summer Digital Photography Portfolio PDF [302kb]‌. Please note that each year the content, dates and tutors vary slightly.

Summer Study Abroad Entry Requirements:

Academic - This course would benefit you if you are a beginner to digital photography or a more experienced digital photographers wishing to explore aspects of their practice further. It is suitable for you if you are a designer, artist, or communications major looking for new photographic outcomes, resulting in the development of a photographic portfolio. If you have an existing portfolio of photography and want to explore new techniques, digital and analogue, you may be more suitable for Summer: Contemporary Photography Practice. If you have questions about your academic background, please make an enquiry to the UAL Study Abroad team.

English - You should be proficient in written and spoken English and be able to participate in group discussions and make presentations. As a guideline we would expect you to have an IELTS score of 6.0. The Language Centre at University of the Arts London offers English courses for overseas students.

Please bring with you:

  • A DSLR with a lenses you like to shoot at, preferably including 35mm, 50mm, 85mm/100mm focal lengths. A good 24-70mm telephoto is fine, but prime/fixed lenses are better.

  • A notepad and paper / Laptop.