Seattle University quad and fountain looking north

Photography, BFA

Cultivate your vision and social impact, the photography ​degree program at Seattle University offers techniques, theory, and real-world exhibition opportunities.

About this Program

Leading Edge Techniques That Make a Difference

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography at Seattle University allows you to explore diverse modes of expression and incorporate multiple perspectives and methodologies.

In collaboration with the renowned Photographic Center Northwest, our instructors and diverse course offerings encourage you to reflect on how the arts—and your own work—respond to contemporary and historic issues of social justice.

Our photography major includes:

  • Education in photographic technique
  • Critical theory
  • Portfolio development
  • Professional-level exhibition
  • Access to state-of-the art digital labs, alternative processes darkrooms and lighting studios

Our curriculum—firmly embedded in the liberal arts tradition—is complemented by small class sizes and our cohort model. As one of the best photography schools, you’ll benefit from close mentorship and become part of a supportive learning community that fosters professional and personal growth.

It’s this holistic approach to education that delivers a vast array of opportunities to develop your own artistic practices both inside and outside the classroom.

Photography Degree at a Glance

Learn how this degree from the Department of Visual Art will contribute to your career goals. Then, explore course requirements and see how impactful a Seattle University degree can be.

Embarking on a photography college major means immersing yourself in the captivating world of visual storytelling. As you delve into the art and technique of capturing images, you'll explore the intricacies of composition, lighting, and narrative creation, utilizing both traditional and digital tools. Your journey encompasses various genres, from portraits to landscapes, documentaries to experimental photography, all while refining your skills in darkrooms and digital labs. The curriculum guides you through art history, visual communication, and contemporary trends. Beyond technical proficiency, you cultivate a discerning aesthetic and learn to convey compelling messages through your lens. This major equips you with creativity, critical thinking, and prepares you for a myriad of careers in the ever-evolving realm of visual media.

The BFA in Photography program does not require an entry portfolio. At the end of their sophomore year of study, students present a portfolio of images and are advised by faculty. Based on the student’s work, faculty will recommend courses to help ensure that each student will be prepared to successfully complete their degree requirements and to pursue their chosen career path.

Documentary Emphasis

Students who wish to pursue an emphasis in documentary photography would substitute nine of the fifteen elective credit requirements with the following documentary courses: Documentary Survey, Documentary Methodology and Documentary Stills and Video.

Graduating photography students are able to:

  • Demonstrate technical proficiency suitable for a lens-based career path.
  • Locate arts practices within historical, political, and social contexts.
  • Articulate a personal creative vision in a chosen medium.
  • Engage social justice or community issues through a visual work or art.
  • Produce a unified body of work for exhibition.

What You’ll Learn

Learn about the classes you’ll take as a student here.

Prepared for Success

A person viewing an art gallery

BFA Exhibition

The BFA in photography program culminates in a series of courses taken in succession during the senior year at Seattle University. These courses prepare our students to develop and complete a portfolio of works to be exhibited in the Vachon Gallery during the annual BFA Photography Exhibition.

A person viewing an art gallery

Studios and Galleries

The Art, Art History and Design Department includes several studios and galleries that photography students can benefit from.

A information session at Seattle University

Pathways to Professional Formation

The College of Arts & Sciences is committed to helping you through your lifetime journey of professional formation and discernment. We offer opportunities to deepen and broaden your understanding of your professional identity.

A photo of Lemieux Library
Click to play the video

Creative Spaces for Artists

The Billodue Makerspace at Seattle University, located in the Jim and Janet Sinegal Center for Science and Innovation (Sinegal Center), provides creative spaces for photography students and artistic exploration. You will be able to participate in a variety of maker-related activities including sewing, fiber arts, bike maintenance, 3D printing, laser cutting, electronics, vinyl cutting, and glass work.

Rewarding Photography Careers

Graduates from the BFA in photography program have been accepted to MFA programs in photography and media arts at institutions such as the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the San Francisco Art Institute, the Pacific Northwest College of the Arts, and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Our students have found careers in commercial photography, journalism and web design. Many go on to receive grants and exhibition opportunities for their photographic arts projects.

Internships: Career-Ready Education

We help our students find the best photography internships for their career goals.

Students with a photography major have completed internships with area nonprofit and government agencies such as the Seattle Housing Institute, Jewish Family Services and Head Start.

They have also interned with area news agencies such as The Stranger, The Weekly and The Seattle Times.

Students interested in the arts have interned with area working artists and at Frye Art Museum and Seattle Art Museum.

Finally, students have learned about careers in commercial photography by completing photography assistantships with ARTS at Seattle University and interning at Seattle University’s Marketing and Communications and with area commercial photographers.

Hear From Our Alumni

SU Alumni Jennifer Bacon

Jennifer Bacon

"Jennifer Bacon is currently a MFA candidate in the Visual Studies program at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. The Photography program at Seattle University gave her the foundational skills necessary to both jump-off and breakaway from photographic standards and techniques, towards a more aesthetic and conceptual studio practice."

BFA Photography '17

Featured Faculty

Contact Us