Skip to main content Skip to site utility navigation Skip to main site navigation Skip to site search Skip to footer

Professional Photography

Take your love for photography and video and build a dynamic career as a Professional Photographer.

Students stand in a field for a photoshoot; one is posing, another is taking a photo and the rest are assisting or observing.
Professional Photography students taking part in a location lighting class on the waterfront near Ivany Campus.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
2 Years

Apply Now


Professional photographers use photo and video to bring a client’s story to life. In this two-year diploma program, you: 

  • Develop your own creative vision and learn artistic, technical and entrepreneurial skills that will position you for success. 
  • Receive hands-on instruction using professional equipment and technology and participate in photo shoots both in studio and on location while collaborating with clients and classmates. 
  • Build essential skills in composition, lighting, audio and editing while shooting photo and video across a variety of subject areas. 
  • Learn to format images to meet client specifications.
  • Develop your communications and problem-solving skills. 
  • Cultivate professional, sustainable relationships with clients to build your professional network. 
  • Explore the many areas of activity in the photography industry, including but not limited to:
    • Commercial & Advertising: portraiture, food, product, architecture
    • Corporate Communications: corporate branding content, event coverage
    • Social Media content creation
    • Lifestyle – family portraiture, weddings, personal branding photography

Whether you plan to launch your own business or work in industry, you graduate with a professional portfolio of work and the skills needed to turn your passion for photography and video into a career.

Work experience

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • This program is eligible for an optional cooperative education (co-op) credit course between year one and two.
    • Co-op provides an opportunity for paid, full-time employment in a field related to your program.
    • Co-op takes place in third term and must be a minimum of 12 weeks and 420 hours.
    • Our co-op program follows Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) guidelines.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.

Choose NSCC

  • You learn in a real-world environment that provides the latest technology and equipment.
  • You learn from experienced instructors who have strong connections to the industry.
  • Small class sizes provide opportunity for one-on-one interaction and support.
  • Throughout the program, industry experts and guest speakers are brought into the classroom to deliver specialized training.
  • You collaborate with peers and professionals in related programs, which may include Graphic Design, Music Arts, Music Business and Graphic and Print Production.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Ivany Campus/Online
Full time Blended
Delivered through a combination of online and in-person classes. At least 50% of learning is in-person.
Seats available

Admission requirements

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2024-25 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Many organizations, including advertising agencies, public relations firms and other businesses, hire photographers for product shots, company reports, sales materials and a myriad of other visual needs.
  • Your most likely career as a professional photographer is as a self-employed, independent entrepreneur.

Future study options

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

BART 1075 - Business Communications for Photographers
In this course learners are exposed to the variety of communication tools and strategies being used in the 21st century and how to use them effectively. Learners will learn about the role that strong written and verbal communication skills play in building and maintaining professional relationships and professional reputations. Learners will also start to develop essential skills needed to communicate with diverse clients and partners in the 21st century.

BART 1080 - Studio Management and Practice
This course will introduce learners to the professional studio work environment. Emphasis will be placed on physical safety of traditional studio and location settings. Through group discussions and activities, as well as visits by guest speakers, the class will examine and participate in real life scenarios, in order to understand and apply the principles of a safe and creative workplace. Learners will continue to apply these principles and procedures as they pursue their own projects and assignments throughout the duration of the program.

BART 1300 - The Language of Critique
This course exposes learners to a wide variety of photo work created by peers, local professionals, and the global community. Through viewing photographic work and discussing it as a group, the class will acquire a vocabulary which will facilitate knowledgeable critique of other photographers' work. As well, this class will prepare them as professionals to accept constructive feedback on their work, and use it as a tool for advancing themselves as photographers. Learners will analyze in detail technical and creative strengths and weaknesses of images, beginning with faculty lead discussions, giving way to learner lead critiques, as the year progresses.

BART 2035 - Professional Portfolio Production I
Students in this course will assemble a customizable portfolio which may be used to showcase their work to potential clients. In the interest of maintaining a relevant body or representational work, each member of the class will develop a portfolio, and will then regularly review and update its contents. Particular attention will be paid to the image selection process, the sequence of the images, and the identification of potential gaps in the content. The overall aesthetic and unique look of the portfolio will be a priority. Feedback and direction will be provided through portfolio presentations and reviews, and industry evaluations, with professional feedback from working professionals.

BART 2075 - Entrepreneurial Fundamentals
This course introduces learners to the concepts, vocabulary and skills associated with entrepreneurship. Learners will explore personal characteristics and evaluate their own potential as an entrepreneur.

BART 2080 - Social Media for Marketing and Promotion
This course exposes learners to the wide variety of social media tools and their uses for business and marketing. Learners will examine platforms for crowdfunding projects and create a professional online presence. Learners will learn about the relationships between different social media platforms and the importance of regular maintenance in order to stay current and relevant.

BART 3075 - Entrepreneurship Project
This is a project based course where learners will have the opportunity to apply entrepreneurial skills and knowledge to a personal business venture whilst being advised and supported by experts and professionals. Learners will develop a business idea aligned to their area of study by applying established processes, attitudes and skills in a real world environment. This is an opportunity for learners to try things out and make mistakes in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Risk taking and innovation will be encouraged without incurring penalties for unsuccessful attempts.

BART 3080 - Essential Skills for a Small Business
This course exposes learners to the fundamental tools and processes associated with running a small business. This is a preparatory course that covers areas such as basic spreadsheets, communications, budgets, and customer service.

BART 4035 - Professional Portfolio Production II
Learners in this course will continue to assemble a customizable portfolio which may be used to showcase their work to potential clients. The development of a web portfolio will be introduced and learners will apply the same rigour, image selection and content development as they do to print portfolios.

BART 4075 - Commercial Ventures in the Creative Industries
In this course learners focus on their unique creative products or services and explore how these products can be commercialized by identifying niche markets, adding value to an existing market or generating market interest in something completely new. Learners will develop real business models for their product/service and develop strategies for production, launching and potential for growth. Learners will ‘soft launch’ a product or service as a means to evaluate the potential market and modify the product.

PHOT 2040 - Emerging Technologies
This course is a vehicle which enables learners to remain current with technological tools, big and small that can be used by photographers for image creation, communication, collaboration, and self-promotion. Learners will discover and share these tools with each other, working together as a group to create a comprehensive collection of resources which will have practical applications in learners’ careers as working photographers.

PPHO 1000 - Professional Practice I
This course introduces learners to the core processes and principles of photography. Learners will learn basic capture, process and output techniques as well as fundamental lighting and flash techniques.

PPHO 1100 - Photographic Inquiry I
In this course you explore potential personal areas of photographic development and inquiry. Learners will explore the work of current and past photographers through a variety of activities and then discuss the processes and intent of these photographers. Learners will also identify processes and techniques which will facilitate the initiation and support the completion of long term personal projects.

PPHO 1200 - History of Photography
In this course, learners will become acquainted with key people and events which led to the current photography industry. Through class presentations, lectures, and hands on projects, learners will investigate the evolution of photography within a cultural context.

PPHO 2000 - Professional Practice II
In this course, learners will become acquainted with studio lighting, and will expand on their comprehension of editing tools and software (workflow). Learners will also expand on the speed lighting techniques and begin to explore location lighting. More advanced editing techniques including image restoration and portrait retouching will be introduced in this course.

PPHO 2020 - Video I
This course introduces students to the foundational processes of video workflow, from planning (pre-production) to recording (production) and editing (post-production). Students in this course will already be familiar with professional digital cameras and basic photographic techniques for capturing and processing still images.

PPHO 2100 - Photographic Inquiry II
In this course, learners will discuss and identify how their personal work informs their professional practice and vice versa. Learners will begin to align personal approaches and techniques to commercial aspects of the industry.

PPHO 2500 - Work Experience
The work experience component provides the learner with an opportunity to apply new skills and concepts appropriate for entry-level positions within the occupation. Learners will assess their own performance and be evaluated by an industry partner. Learners will identify personal outcomes they wish to attain during the work experience and will keep a journal.

PPHO 3000 - Professional Practice III
The theoretical side of image making involves the cognitive ability to understand and remember formulas, measurement conventions, digital and conventional image structure and other norms. This course involves the use and proficiency of professional image manipulation software and hardware. Students will manipulate and prepare images to professional standards and be introduced to digital imaging hardware and ancillary software.

PPHO 3020 - Video II
This course builds on the video pre-production and production techniques introduced in Video I. Students focus on developing skills needed for the types of small-production videos that professional photographers can be commissioned to create. Emphasis is on audio production techniques and applying portrait lighting skills acquired in Professional Practice II and III to lighting for video.

PPHO 3030 - Design
This course gives learners a fundamental understanding of the relationship between images and text for both printed and digital formats. Learners will be introduced to the elements that contribute to a successful design and the vocabulary used across creative industries in collaborative projects. Learners will also build basic websites as marketing tools.

PPHO 3100 - Photographic Inquiry III
In this course, learners will examine the relationship between personal work and client driven work. Learners will specify how the techniques and processes applied in professional practice can be applied to independent work and vice versa.

PPHO 4000 - Professional Practice IV
Learners continue to practice and demonstrate their knowledge of advanced formulas, measurement conventions, digital and conventional image structure and other norms. The culmination of their knowledge to date will be demonstrated through the production of industry-related photography assignments. Learners are encouraged to use analytical and critique techniques and methods to continuously improve their own craft and apply a rigorous workflow model to all assignments.

PPHO 4020 - Video III
This course continues to build on the video pre-production and production techniques introduced in Video I and Video II. Students develop skills needed for the types of small-production videos that professional photographers can be commissioned to create. An emphasis is on audio and video techniques for event videography, including using a multi-camera set-up, alternate camera stabilization options, and continuing to apply portrait lighting skills to the continuous lighting needed for video.

PPHO 4100 - Photographic Inquiry IV
In this course, learners will integrate creative concepts, styles and techniques with commercial assignments to create innovative solutions and identify potential niche avenues in the photography industry.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

Apply Now

A headshot of Sabrina who folds a camera jauntily over her shoulder.
Sabrina Allison
Class of 2021
Enrolling in this program was like winning the lottery. The instructors are excellent and very helpful. The knowledge and skills I learned gave me the confidence to have a successful photography business.

Learn more about this program

Contact us

Share your details with us and we'll send you a program overview.

Required fields are marked with a red symbol (*)

Thank you for contacting us.

Your program overview is on the way. While you wait, feel free to browse our list of Programs & Courses or visit our Admissions information section.

Explore similar programs

To find other programs and career options that might be a good fit for you check out these areas of interest: