SFAI approaches photography as a visual and conceptual tool, a way to construct narrative, and a means to document the world.
SFAI is home to the first “fine art” photography program in the country, founded by Ansel Adams in 1946. Historical and critical knowledge of photography is brought to bear on contemporary practice, and students are encouraged to utilize technique in the service of their concepts. Issues of installation, scale, materials, presentation, and audience interaction are rigorously considered and questioned. As technology continues to change, Photography at SFAI continues to expand and evolve while still being attentive to traditional, analogue approaches.
The Photography curriculum prepares students to bring a critical understanding to a society that is saturated with cameras and photographic images, and to envision what they—as artists—have to offer such a world.
Our Photography Department’s resources include a 12 station group darkroom and private darkrooms, all with Saunders and Beseler enlargers to print 35 mm to 4x5 inch negatives; a digital facility, fully color managed with Mac Pro towers; Epson V700 & 10000XL, Nikon 9000, and Hasselblad X5 scanners; a fleet of state-of-the-art Epson inkjet printers to digitally print up to 44” wide; a 30x40 inch UV light exposure unit for historic processes; filtered and temperature controlled water for film processing; a fully equipped lighting studio with a green screen and lighting grid; mat cutting facilities; and a classroom with Intel iMac computers, scanners and Epson printers. Digital and film cameras, including Canon SLRs with HD video capability, 35mm, medium format, and 4x5 cameras, are available to students for checkout.