Pre-College Summer Photography Programs

Pre-College Summer Photography Programs

Explore Pre-College Photography Summer Programs for High School Students

Introduction: Pre-College Summer Programs in Photography

One way that high school students can learn more about a topic of interest is through a pre-college summer program. These programs provide students with a chance to extend their learning beyond the traditional school. Many subject areas can be investigated through a summer program. One of the topics that students can learn about is photography. There are now a variety of colleges, educational organizations, and art institutes that offer pre-college summer photography programs. This article provides information about some of these opportunities.

Photography Courses and Experiences in High School

Summer photography program on a college campus for high school studentsPhotography is a productive and valuable creative outlet for high school students. It allows students to integrate technology, art, creativity, substance, and more. There are opportunities at many high schools to develop skills in photography. For example, there are often photography courses in art departments, photojournalism opportunities through school newspapers, and ways to commemorate the high school experience through yearbook photos. These options can give students a chance to explore photography in a productive and beneficial manner.

Pre-College Photography Programs in the Summer

Pre-college summer photography programs can be helpful for high school students who would like to enrich their knowledge and skills while gaining experience beyond a traditional secondary school setting. These programs can be particularly helpful for students who are considering pursuing photography in a post-secondary educational environment.

Photography pre-college summer program for high school studentsSummer pre-college photography programs often enable students to utilize new resources, learn from college-level instructors, develop advanced techniques, and gain insight into potential college majors as well as career options. Structured summer programs also allow students to connect with peers from different locations who share a similar interest or passion in photography. In addition, pre-college programs can give students a feel for what it is like to study photography in a higher education environment and can help them begin thinking about the transition that occurs when high school concludes.

In addition to photography programs, there are also pre-college summer art programs for high school students as well as programs beyond the arts. The following are examples of the type of summer programs that can be found in this directory.

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Researching and Finding Pre-College Photography Programs

High school photography summer programs on a college campusThere are a variety of residential and commuter summer photography programs available for high school students. It is important for students to read about, research, and ask questions about a program of interest. The summer programs can vary based upon factors such as location, structure, type of photography, length, daily experiences, cost, and more.

The content below includes information about specific pre-college photography programs that are held in the summer. The list of programs in this article is not intended to be exhaustive. The specific programs included in this post are meant to provide examples of types of opportunities that are available for high school students.

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Pre-College Photography Summer Programs for High School Students

1) Drexel University Summer Photography Pre-College Workshop – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Drexel’s summer pre-college photography program provides high school students with the opportunity to learn about a variety of facets involved with photography. Many topics are covered throughout the program, which allows participants to gain insight into a broad range of skills. Students can also hone in on specific aspects of photography such as equipment, digital media, developing, and editing.

Using a camera for summer pre-college photography program for high school studentsThe one-week program gives students the chance to spend time on the university’s campus, utilize college-level resources, become more familiar with the study of photography, and enhance their artistic skills. The program has a limited number of spaces so that individual attention and feedback can be given to each participant. Through the program, students take photographs, work in photography labs, edit pictures, discuss cutting-edge techniques, and share ideas with peers.

The program is a pre-college experience, and students can stay on the university’s campus. During the program, participants learn from university instructors, gain insight into the university’s photography program of study, get a preview of college life, and enhance their photography skills. There is a registration process for the program.

Participants: High school students who are sixteen and older.

Learn more: Drexel’s Photography Summer Workshop

2) The University of Georgia Pre-College Photography Summer Program
– Athens, Georgia

UGA has a pre-college program with a focus on photography. This opportunity allows high school and middle school students to learn new photographic skills, interact with instructors, and collaborate with peers while gaining experience on a college campus.

Learning about photography in summer pre-college program for high school studentsThe week-long program provides students with the opportunity to get a feel for different types of photography. Students work with digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, which gives them a feel for the ways that professionals utilize photography to share images and stories. During the program, participants can learn about other important aspects of photography, such as lighting and other pre-production strategies that can lead to professional quality photographs. Students also gain experience with a variety of post-production resources as the use of high-tech editing software. One of the features of the program is the amount of time that is allotted for students to take photographs. This gives students a chance to quickly apply the skills that they are learning. 

The program takes place on the campus of the university. Participants have the option of staying at the university or commuting during the program. There is a registration process for the program, and there is more than one session scheduled for the summer.

Participants: High school students and middle school students who are ages 13-17.

Learn more: UGA Summer Photography Program

3) Syracuse University Summer College Photography Program
– Syracuse, New York

Syracuse has a wide variety of programs available for high school students through their summer college program. One of the pre-college programs focuses on photography. This program emphasizes building digital photography skills, experiential learning, creativity, and technique.

A high school student taking a photograph during a summer photography program for high school studentsThe two-week summer program begins by providing students with an in-depth look at the basic aspects of digital photography. Participants also examine pre-production, post-production, and photographic techniques that can be utilized to produce professional images. The program includes exploring photography in a comprehensive manner, taking part in skill-building exercises, discussing current trends in the field, and engaging in activities designed to build photography knowledge.

During the program, participants have many opportunities to take pictures, examine the quality of images, utilize editing software, and share photographs with others. Students receive feedback throughout the program designed to enhance their artistic growth. Through the program, participants become more familiar with how photography fully integrates technology, art, and ideas.

The pre-college provides students with a preview of studying in a college setting. Participants spend time on the campus, utilize advanced resources, learn in lab settings, and find out about college and career options that can be pursued. There is an application for the program, and there are some need-based and merit-based scholarship opportunities.

Participants: High school students who will be entering the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.

Learn more: SU Photography Pre-College Program

4) The University of Connecticut Photography Pre-College Summer Program
 – Storrs, Connecticut

UConn is well known for the expansive array of summer pre-college programs. One of the unique programs offered focuses on photography and enables students to learn about and experience the classic photography process. This opportunity provides participants with the chance to immerse themselves in the type of photography that involves developing images in the darkroom. The program can give students a new perspective, along with new insights into the area of photography.

Camera for a pre-college photography summer programs for high schoolersThe week-long photography intensive lets students use their sense of imagination and wonder to see what happens when they engage in the process of developing photographic images in a dark room. Students learn about wet photography, how to utilize a darkroom, and techniques of historical photographers. The program emphasizes experiential, hands-on learning that gives students the opportunity to fully embrace their sense of creativity, skills, and curiosity. Thus, students have a chance to develop black and white images while learning about the art of using specialized photographic paper.

The program is not just about developing film and working in the darkroom, as students can use cameras from the UConn Department of Art and Art History to take pictures around the campus. They can then employ their knowledge to develop their own images. Additionally, as the program progresses, students have a chance to display images and share their work.

Participants get to have a pre-college experience on the university’s campus. They work closely with a university instructor and spend time engrossed in learning on the campus. Students can also stay in residence halls during the program. There is an application for the program.

Participants: High school students who will be going into the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade and who will be at least age fifteen when the program begins.

Learn more: UConn Pre-College Photography Program

5) The School of the New York Times Summer Photojournalism Program
– New York City, NY

The School of the NY Times offers a unique summer pre-college program that integrates photography and journalism. This experiential-based learning program provides high school students with the chance to learn about the field of photojournalism. Students receive instruction and gain hands-on experiences taking pictures that share information in a visual story form.

Photojournalism summer pre-college program for high school studentsThis two-week summer program has been designed to give young photographers an opportunity to become more familiar with the significance that photographs play in conveying information. During the program, participants learn from instructors as well as experts in the industry. They gain insight into the type of post-secondary educational options that can lead to a career in the field of photojournalism. They also get a sense of the types of techniques, knowledge, and skills that are utilized by professional photojournalists.

The program emphasizes ‘learning by doing.’ As a result, students have the chance to take many photographs, engage in the editing process, and put together pieces for a portfolio. Students also have a chance to visit relevant sites that serve to enhance their understanding of photography and photojournalism.

There are several sessions of the program offered during the summer. Participants have the option of residing in university housing on a campus in New York City or commuting. There is an application process, and space can be limited.

Participants: High school students who will be going into sophomore, junior, or senior year. Some sessions are also open to students who have just completed high school.

Learn more: NYT School Photojournalism Program

6) SUNY Purchase Pre-College Summer Photography Program
 – Purchase, New York

Purchase provides a summer workshop for high school students who have an interest in photography. Students learn about a range of skills, including pre-production (before taking pictures), camera angles, lense usage, and editing. The enrichment opportunity enables students to explore and gain experience in the area of photography.

Summer pre-college photography camp for high school studentsThe two-week summer program allows high school students to immerse themselves in the artistic, technological, and creative aspects of photography. The program focuses on digital photography and includes instruction on editing using Adobe software. The workshop is open to all students, as instructors differentiate to help students learn and be sufficiently challenged. During the program, students have ample time to take photographs, carefully view images, and edit the pictures for final quality. Students can also utilize their photo pieces for a portfolio. Towards the end of the workshop, students share their work in an exhibition.

The university setting turns the workshop into a pre-college experience that enables high school students to preview a college environment during the summer. The program is day-based, but students get to experience learning in a college setting, and they have a chance to utilize university resources. 

Participants: High school students in grades nine through twelve.

Learn more: Purchase Photography Pre-College Program

7) Auburn University Summer Photography Pre-College Camp
 – Auburn, Alabama

Auburn has an extensive selection of pre-college summer camps for high school students, which includes a specialized opportunity in photography. The program is open to students with all different experience levels. Participants can expect to engage in a variety of experiential learning activities, as the camp emphasizes a ‘learning by doing’ approach with photography.

The one-week summer camp covers many aspects of photography while also using diverse learning modalities. There are demonstrations, presentations, guest speakers, and learning exercises that all provide students with enriching information to strengthen their photography knowledge and skills. There is also time devoted to allowing students to practice the craft and use cameras to apply what they have learned by taking their own photos. Students also have the chance to utilize advanced-level resources at the university and learn about current trends in photography.

The summer photography camp is a pre-college experience, as participants can enjoy learning on the university’s campus. Students can also stay in university-run dormitories while they participate in the program. Additionally, there are extracurricular activities available when students are not engrossed in learning about photography. There is a registration process for the program.

Participants: High school students in grades nine through twelve.

Learn more: AU Photography Summer Camp


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Mike Uretsky

Mike has worked in the field of education as a teacher, school counselor, program coordinator, and consultant. As an educator, he has helped high school students find summer programs, pre-college programs, and colleges that align with their interests and goals. He has an interest in assisting students with the transition from high school to college. Mike is a manager for Student Education Programs, an online directory that is designed to connect high school students with valuable summer pre-college opportunities.

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Donna Andrews

Donna has worked in the field of education in a variety of positions. She has been a high school teacher, college academic skills coordinator, and university professor. She has helped students achieve success in summer STEM programs and sports programs. She has also coordinated and taught in pre-college programs for high school students.

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