1st Year Curriculum

History of Photography | AHD-1090 

Serving as an introduction to the history of photography, this course will examine the major photographic movements and technological advances of the medium from its invention through the first half of the 20th century. Prominent figures from these periods will be closely studied to provide a foundation for understanding not only the medium’s history but also the limitations of canonical approach to understanding photography’s democratic reach.

Workshop I & II | PHD-1030 & PHD-1035 

With an emphasis on extensive darkroom work and group critique of photo and video work, this course will cover printing, negative development, spotting and mounting as well as how to talk about one's photographs and videos. Assignments will be given and students will submit a portfolio at the end of the semester. Note: Please bring your portfolio to the first session. 

Photography on Assignment | PHD-1060 

This course in photographic nuts and bolts will include technical demonstrations and assignments concerning the use of meters, filters, lighting and flash, among other topics. Students will be given location assignments, which will imitate those of a commercial or editorial photographer working in the current marketplace. The course emphasizes the practical, and will help students be flexible and resourceful in their problem-solving abilities. Students will receive individual critique of their work. 


Digital Photography I | PHD-1080

Gaining a fundamental understanding of Adobe Photoshop, Bridge and Lightroom applications will be the focus of this course. Topics covered include image size and resolution, flatbed and film scanning, color modes, file formats, painting and editing tools, file management, image adjustments, working with layers and layer masks, and output options. By the end of the semester, students will have a basic understanding of how to work with photographs in a digital environment. 

Digital Photography II | PHD-1085 

The emphasis of this course will be placed on an exploration of the full potential of Adobe Photoshop. Students will apply advanced digital imaging techniques to their work and critically examine the effects that imaging technologies have on the ways we see and make art. A variety of topics will be covered, including advanced selection techniques, shape-and-text tools, channels, paths, blending modes, filter effects, service bureaus, color management, monitor calibration and digital cameras. 

Video I | PHD-1110 

The goal of this course is to familiarize students with video in its technical form as well as its conceptual possibilities. Various genres of the medium will be explored, and students will articulate their interests in narrative form. 


Picture Symposium | PHD-1280

This foundational course unpacks students pre-existing and potential relationships with still and moving images, two central elements of contemporary art, commerce, communication and exchange. Striving toward fluency in the making (speaking) and interpreting (reading) of pictures in all contexts, students will work collaboratively to build a foundation for how to create and circulate images with the necessary agency to distinguish their voices and identities while communicating with one another as well as audiences beyond their classroom. The current relationships between printed pictures and pictures on screens (computers, smart-phones, tablets, etc.) as well as video in all of its real world social and social media interactions will be closely examined, providing students with a stronger understanding of how to navigate their presence as picture makers in both physical and online spaces of the 21st century.

Writing and Literature I | HCD-1020

This is the first part of a two-semester course that helps students become capable, critical and independent writers. With its focus on developing an argument, the course offers an introduction to some of the skills necessary for critical analysis of written art. It will include a review of writing basics (grammar, coherence, idea development, sentence and essay structure). Since reading widely is a foundation of good writing, course readings are drawn from a selection of pre-modern Western works, including drama, poetry, the narrative and the critical essay, which will be used as discussion and writing prompts. Note: Students are required to take and pass the Proficiency Examination during their first semester at SVA (except for students enrolled in HCI-1020, Writing and Literature I for International Students). Please refer to page 228 for information. 

Writing and Literature II | HCD-1025 

This is the second part of a two-semester course that emphasizes essay development, reading and critical thinking. Students will write essays and a research paper, and continue to work on their grammar and essay development. Readings are drawn from a selection of modern works, including drama, poetry, the narrative and the critical essay. Note: Writing Program critical writing courses (HWD-2000 through HWD-2999) may be used to substitute for HCD-1025, Writing and Literature II. For information on these courses please visit sva.edu/undergraduate/ humanities-and-sciences/writing-program.