Fine Art Photography; Student peering into camera

Fine Art Photography


Push the boundaries of your creative lens at one of the nation’s best institutions for photography

Students at the Corcoran can minor in photography. The major in Fine Art Photography is no longer accepting applications for new students. Applicants who are interested in studying Fine Art Photography should apply to the BFA in Fine Art, where they can pursue photography as a concentration.

At the Corcoran, we recognize the critical importance of the photographic image in contemporary society while establishing photography’s historical context within art. Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Art Photography study current photo-based art while refining their technical skills and developing their individual styles and subject matter. Our curriculum examines the roles that lens-based media play in contemporary life while emphasizing personal creativity, varied photographic processes, and an awareness of cultural context and critical analysis.

Through the direction and insight of our faculty — who are practicing artists themselves — and visiting artists, our students experience first-hand how photography can be a vehicle for creative expression and an agent for change. The Corcoran provides students access to the George Washington University’s extensive research resources. With an interdisciplinary approach to contemporary photographic practices, students are encouraged to extend beyond comfort zones, redefine practices, and prepare for creative pursuits after graduation.



student examining film negatives



The 120-credit BFA degree in Fine Art Photography begins with four Foundation courses that provide intellectually and artistically rigorous studio-based courses. Focusing on key aspects of art and design, courses include:

  • Drawing and Surface,
  • Form and Materials,
  • Time and Light, and Interaction.


In addition, you'll take two semesters of darkroom photography, one semester of digital photography, and one semester of video. There is flexibility for electives so you can tailor your studies to your interests. We encourage students to develop artistic and technical skills in both cutting-edge digital photography and video as well as mastering traditional darkroom work and you can explore other media.

You’ll start with a grounding in the history, techniques, and aesthetics of photography. Next, you will develop a critical understanding of your personal practice through a series of Studio courses. In your final year, you'll specialize your study in an intensive sequence of courses to prepare for thesis, an expression of individual interests presented at NEXT.


Fine Art Photography MAJOR 


Female student looking at display of prints

Female student drawing at easel

All first-year BFA students take Corcoran Foundations courses. For two semesters, you are an essential member of a tight-knit group of artists, designers and photographers. You will develop relationships across studio areas and foster multi-disciplinary approaches to making and problem-solving that can sustain a life-long investigative practice. Here you learn to think and communicate like an artist, take risks and challenge your assumptions, while developing the fundamental skills necessary to read and manipulate the complex language of images, forms and cultures that make up the world around you.

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Where You'll Go



Hands holding printed photos


Because of the Corcoran’s location in the heart of Washington D.C., photography students are exposed to a wide array of career options in the arts, including exhibiting as an artist, teaching, commercial photography, and curating. Students intern at prestigious organizations such as The Washington Post, National Geographic magazine, the National Portrait Gallery, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Transformer Gallery, and the Latin American Youth Center.

Graduates from our program have established careers at nationally recognized outlets including United Press International, U.S. News & World Report, Politico, The Washington Post, and other organizations.


Use Career Services




Scenic photo of mountains and sky by Michaelangelo Rodriguez

Seung Hyn Rhee, BFA, 2019

Seung Hyun Rhee, from Seoul, South Korea, has been studying in the United States for the past twelve years.  Although he considers Washington, D.C. his home, he expresses that the food and technology is very different than that of South Korea, and that the differences can often feel alienating.  

Seung Hyun's project for NEXT 2019, entitled Homesick, allows for him to reconnect with his Korean roots through Korean-Pop music, often called K-Pop.  By scanning album covers for source material and using his personal archive of photos from K-Pop concerts, Seung Hyun assembles reflections of his desire to connect and a longing to return home.


Still photo of branches in ice

Colin Wheeler
BFA 2015

“Often conjuring emotions distinct to what the landscape can offer, these details accentuate why I feel so compelled to tell the story of my relationship to these magnificent and highly intricate spaces.” 


Person with bandana covering nose and mouth

John Edmonds
BFA 2012

John Edmonds investigates Black beauty utilizing natural lighting in his most recent exhibition, “Tribe.”


female student pointing to art on wall

Ashley Llanes
BFA 2019

Through La Quinceañera, Ashley explores the ethnic conservation of family values and the gender and cultural expectations that are introduced to a woman on her fifteenth birthday through the emulation of her family’s Quinceañera photos. 


 Catherine Leonard

Catherine Leonard (BFA '20) is a photographer and artist from Silver Spring, Maryland. Her work of the past three years has been an intimate and personal approach to her own familial dynamics, understanding the changes within family structures over time. Her work was featured in the 2020 NEXT exhibition where she showcases her thesis, The Way By Which I Came, which explores familial dynamics and loss. View more of her work here.


people walking across the street in the dark

Sam Corum, BFA, 2012

Corum watched images of the turmoil unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri and was shocked by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. As the protest and the police response escalated, Corum, a military photographer turned freelance photojournalist, felt compelled to document what was clearly history in the making.



Photo of desert scape

Frank DiPerna, Professor

Corcoran Professor of Photography Frank DiPerna showed a retrospective exhibition at the Katzen Arts Center of the American University Museum.



Program Administrator
Eliza Mott
[email protected]

Program Head
Dean Kessmann
[email protected] 

Undergraduate Advisor: BA in Fine Art Photography
Katherine Akey
[email protected] 

Undergraduate Advisor: BFA in Photojournalism
Matt Eich
[email protected]