City Lit photography course

Course Dates: 14/10/20 - 28/04/21
Time: 10:00 - 17:00
Location: Mixed Mode (Online and Onsite)

Image - Phil Peacock

Want to delve deeper into photography? This comprehensive foundation course covers everything you could want to know, led by field experts in our dedicated central London photography studio. Get to know your camera, learn traditional and digital techniques, explore the background to different genres, try out industry software, and gain key skills to get you started in the workplace or to apply for a university-level course in photography.

This course will be delivered online and onsite. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.


What is the course about?

Using a wide range of both traditional and digital techniques you will explore commercial and experimental approaches to photography in our fully equipped photographic studios. You will work through a series of projects and industry software sessions facilitated by experts in the field. You will be exploring traditional and digital photography, lighting, history, and genres including people, documentary, street, portraiture and commercial practice. This course will be held in City Lit's dedicated central London (Covent Garden) photographic studio equipped with studio lighting, Apple Mac computers, scanners, high quality A2 digital printers and professional software - Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture 1 and PtGui (panorama stitching software).

This course will be delivered online and onsite, and will involve tutor presentation and class discussion. Student preparation and homework outside class times is strongly encouraged. To fully participate in this online class you will need:
- An email address
- A reliable internet connection
- A computer/laptop/tablet with a fully updated browser (preferably google chrome). Your device will need a microphone, and preferably a camera.

What will we cover?

- Manual camera skills and exposure control
- Lighting techniques including studio lighting
- Digital image manipulation and editing
- Project development and creative ideas
- Exploring genres: including street/documentary; photographing people; landscape and panoramic photography
- Traditional techniques including pinhole photography
- History of photography
- Digital and silver based printing
- Creating print and web portfolios.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Produce photographs to a high level of technical proficiency
- Confidently apply exposure settings and lighting techniques
- Digitally manipulate and retouch images
- Apply relevant photographic techniques to realise creative ideas
- Create projects exploring different genres of photography (e.g. landscape, people etc.)
- Produce a diverse portfolio of high-quality photographs.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is for beginners to photography, though it is an intensive course requiring students to demonstrate a high level of commitment throughout. You will be expected to have time management skills and be able to work independently in conducting research, practising skills and developing projects outside the course. You should have a basic knowledge and competence in using computers, including creating, saving and retrieving files. You will be encouraged to have an online presence and can gain support for this on web courses offered throughout the term.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion. You should be happy using numbers and able to do simple measurements and calculations.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught through workshops, short lectures, handouts, practical exercises, individual assistance, group presentations and critiques. The course puts equal emphasis on technical skills and ideas-based thinking. You will need to allow about 6 hours per week for practice and study in addition to the taught hours. You will be expected to develop photographic projects and assignments independently outside the course, and will be encouraged to maintain a web presence of your images for informal critiques.
Please note we will be using Apple Mac computers.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You must have access to a camera that allows full manual control (e.g. any digital SLR camera). If you intend to use film be prepared for the substantial film and processing costs, although the course will actually emphasise digital techniques as film is now primarily the domain of art photography. City Lit has a range of digital SLR cameras, tripods and lenses which you are welcome to use during the hours of the class. You will need a high-capacity memory stick or a portable hard drive for the course – please note PC-formatted hard drives can be read by Apple Macs, but not written to.

You will be using some computer software on this course. We have Adobe Creative Cloud (which includes Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom) on some machines in the Student Centre at City Lit. If you wish to buy your own copy to work at home, you might be eligible for a discount from Adobe:
An alternative, cheaper image editing software is Affinity Photo Affinity Photo

If you would like to buy art materials for your personal use outside of the course, City Lit students receive 10% discount off everything* from Cass Art, the UK's leading art supplies retailer. You will need to show your enrolment receipt in-store to receive your discount. Visit the Charing Cross shop at 13 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0EP or find your local shop at *Terms and conditions apply, visit

Please note this course is exempt from our refunds and transfers policy.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

City Lit has a wide range of practical and theoretical photography courses. One natural extension would be VY600 Documentary photography.


Customer Reviews 8 item(s)

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Reviews below are by students who have attended this course, regardless of the course teacher. Please be aware you may not be booking onto a course with the same teacher.

The course is a journey through photography, it is intensive and to benefit you need to join in fully, taking photos and presenting them to the group. I felt I had a reasonable grasp of photography before the course, the things I already knew I now understand more and I have been able to develop new skills.

Most importantly, you must put in a high level of effort to get the most out of it, being a 'passenger' will be a waste of time.
Course Rating
Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 31/07/2019)
This is a fantastic course. Its a major commitment and not really for the total beginner in my opinion. I had a very basic level of competence and this course has launched me into a whole new level of photography. The teaching is inspiring and of a very high quality. We were taught commercial and conceptual photography, so I think it would be useful for people looking to practice art photography, or looking for a career change into commercial photography. I am not well off so it was a big decision for me to spend such a large sum of money but I feel it was worth every penny and has set me up for a lifetime of photography.
Course Rating
Review by Rosydozy / (Posted on 30/08/2016)
The teaching and organisation on this course are outstanding. It's not for a total beginner (you would want to try an introductory class before committing this amount of time and money) but it is taught "from the ground up" so don't let lack of experience put you off. You learn by doing on this course - you won't be sat in class being talked at for hours - and, as another review mentioned, you get what you put into it. They manage not to either dumb anything down or leave anyone behind and the small class sizes means you get excellent access to direct tuition and good peer support. Taught by a photographer with 30 years commercial experience and a fine art photographer - just about all bases are covered in an intense but concise course. If you haven't got £9k a year for three years to go to art school to learn photography then this is a much quicker and less expensive route. And it was great fun too.
Course Rating
Review by Clancytown / (Posted on 01/04/2016)
Really well-organised and well constructed course. It might seem like a lot of money but compare it to paying £9k a year for three years at university and it suddenly seems a lot more reasonable...
And the teaching - by a photographer with 30 years commercial experience and a fine art photographer - is certainly to art school degree level. Don't let that put you off if you are a beginner - everything is explained with clarity in a supportive and inclusive environment. It is still quite rigorous and requires a good deal of commitment - but your efforts will be well rewarded. We are over half-way through the current course and I will really miss it - and my fellow students - when it is over. Much smaller class sizes than university art departments too - and really valuable feedback from staff and students.
Course Rating
Review by Clancytown / (Posted on 20/01/2016)
This is a really lovely course, as long as you are not a beginner. The teaching is fabulous, and on the whole the lecturers were very encouraging and supportive. You will get as much out of it as you put in, but lecturers were patient and went through teaching points many times. I was very impressed.
The exhibition we put on at the end tied everything together and also taught me how much work goes into exhibitions!
Would have loved it if there had been an Advanced course for another year to go onto.
Course Rating
Review by Sally / (Posted on 22/06/2015)
Not a beginners course. Superb teaching and course content develops participants to a high level of skill.
Course Rating
Review by pg / (Posted on 20/06/2015)
I learned so much on this course. [The tutors] were very helpful and supportive teachers. I now look at photographs in a much more discerning and informed way
Course Rating
Review by SheenaG / (Posted on 20/06/2015)
Fantastic teachers. This is a well organised course and I feel much more comfortable with using my SLR
Course Rating
Review by AD / (Posted on 05/06/2015)
Tutor Biographies
Sara Leigh Lewis Tutor Website See more
Armelle Skatulski See more
Grant Smith Tutor Website See more
Laura Vuoma Tutor Website See more
Matthew Ward Tutor Website See more

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: VY844

Please choose a course date 

Wed, day, 14 Oct - 28 Apr '21

Duration: 23 sessions (over 29 weeks)

Full fee: £1,899.00
Senior fee: £1,519.00
Concession: £1,158.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2700/2703

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.