Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography

Develop your photography career

The BFA in Photography at BHSU offers many opportunities to students interested in photojournalism, commercial photography, or fine art photography. The photography emphasis offers both basic and advanced black-and-white photography, color photography, digital imaging, photojournalism, and contemporary issues classes. For photography majors, other courses include basic and advanced studio lighting, the history of photography, and alternative silver and digital processes.
The photography program at BHSU is also acclaimed for:

    • Steve Babbitt: Fine art, landscape, law, darkroom printing & techniques
    • Jerry Rawlings: Advertising, studio, commercial, photojournalism
    • Skott Chandler: Digital, Video, Photoshop & Lightroom, Inkjet printing

A Broad Exposure

BHSU has one of the finest darkroom and digital imaging facilities in South Dakota and the surrounding region; with three black and white and color labs, a film developing area, and an imaging lab, the facilities provided are desirable to any serious Photography major. The digital imaging lab is complete with multiple Mac computers, scanners, and various large format and desktop printing stations. Students also have access to a 3,000+ square foot commercial studio with a cyclorama and a new alternative silver and digital printing lab. Students can further their exposure to the photography industry through:

  • THE LATEST IN TECHNOLOGY... Drone photography is taking the photographic world by storm. BHSU now offers a course in drone photography with the latest in technology. In this course, not only will you learn how to properly use and control a drone, but also about the rules, regulations, and laws surrounding the use of drones.
  • CUTTING EDGE CLASSES... In the ever-changing photographic industry, DSLR videography has become a must know. The BHSU Bachelor of Fine Arts photography program now offers MCOM/Art 462: Advanced Photography Projects. In this course, students learn the art of film and video creation, editing, file management, and color grading.
  • EXCELLENT INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES... Students in the photography program have interned with worldwide companies such as Untamed Photography, the Minnesota Twins, Healing Haiti, Walt Disney World, and H.H. Brown Footwear. BHSU also offers local opportunities for internships with companies such as the Rapid City Rush, the Dahl Arts Center, and the Historic Black Hills Studios.

Careers in Photography

As with most professions, a degree in Photography can open the door to opportunity. In the field of photography, degree holders are often considered for jobs as commercial photographers, photojournalists, digital photo editors, videographers, and even educators. Here are descriptions of the most common photography careers.

Photojournalists photograph newsworthy people, places, and sporting, political, and community events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television. Some work as salaried staff employees, while others own their own businesses and are known as freelance photographers. Freelance news photographers may license the use of their photographs through stock photo agencies or contracts with other types of clients.

Fine Art Photographer
Fine art photographers sell work to individuals, galleries, interior designers, architects, libraries, community centers, churches, banks, hotels, government and elsewhere on a freelance basis or by commission. Fine art photographers enjoy creative freedom not generally allowed to freelance or staff photographers, but they must also be extremely self-motivated.

Commercial/Industrial Photographer
Commercial/Industrial photographers capture images used for books, advertisements, catalogs, and wide media. They take pictures of a wide variety of objects and subjects, including models, landscapes, buildings, and merchandise. An industrial photographer might take pictures of machinery, workers, and other products that can be useful to workers in analyzing, public relations, and business strategies. Industrial photography takes place at the site of its use.

Studio/Portrait Photographer
Studio/Portrait photographers often work in their own studios, taking pictures of groups or individuals. They often specialize in particular events, such as weddings, religious ceremonies, or school photographs. They also may work on location. Some portrait photographers may own their own business, which requires them to arrange for advertising, schedule appointments, mount and frame pictures, purchase supplies, keep records, bill customers, and possibly hire and train new employees.

Freelance Photographer
Freelance photographers are hired out on a job-by-job basis, which is a nice perk for those who prefer to make their own schedule or to work on a variety of projects. Freelancers do many of the same jobs as staff photographers, without the benefit of a consistent paycheck. Some freelancers specialize in areas such as portraits, aerial photography by plane, weddings or fashion.

*Current students, please refer to the DegreeWorks Dashboard in MyBHSU to confirm your major requirements.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography

Photography core- 60 SEMESTER HOURS

  • ART 121 - Design I 2D 3 semester hours
  • ART 161 - Graphic Communication 3 semester hours
  • ART 265 - Basic Photography 3 semester hours
  • ART 266 - Photojournalism 3 semester hours
  • ART 312 - Intermediate Photography 3 semester hours
  • ART 364 - Studio and Commercial Photography 3 semester hours
  • ART 365 - Advanced Photography 3 semester hours
  • ART 367 - Color Photography 3 semester hours
  • ART 450 - Alternative Photo Printing 3 semester hours
  • ART 461 - Photo Special Projects 3 semester hours
  • ART 462 - Advanced Photography Projects 3 semester hours
  • ART 463 - Professional Practices in Photographic Imaging 3 semester hours
  • ART 464 - Advanced Studio & Commercial Photography 3 semester hours
  • ART 465 - Contemporary Issues in Photography 3 semester hours
  • ART 494 Internship Credits / Units: 3
  • ARTH 121 - Introduction to the Visual Arts 3 semester hours
  • ART or ARTH 300/400 elective Credits / Units: 3
  • MCOM 350 - Digital Photography 3 semester hours
  • Take 2 of the following 3 courses:
  • ARTH 165 - History of Photography 3 semester hours
  • ARTH 211 - History of World Art I 3 semester hours
  • ARTH 212 - History of World Art II 3 semester hours

Major Electives - 15 semester hours

  • Choose 5 courses from below:
  • 3 ART 143 Traditional Lakota Arts
  • 3 ART 231 Painting I
  • 3 ART 257 Intermediate Desktop Publishing
  • 3 ART 291 Independent Study
  • 3 ART 292 Topics
  • 3 ART 312 Intermediate Photography
  • 3 ART 315 Computer Production & Imaging
  • 3 ART 338 Encaustic Painting
  • 3 ART 430 Watercolor
  • 3 ART 494 Internship
  • 3 ARTD 335 Digital Illustion
  • 3 ARTH 165 History of Photography
  • 3 ARTH 415 Gallery Management
  • 3 SPCM 455 Visual Culture

Supportive Electives

Take 1 course from each group below. Courses must be different than those used to satisfy Gen Ed & Major requirements


General Education Requirements - 30 semester hours

  • 3 ENGL 101 Composition I
  • 3 ENGL 201 Composition II
  • 3 MATH Gen Ed - Mathematics
  • 3 SPCM Speech 101, 215, or 222
  • 6 Gen Ed - Social Science
  • 6 Gen Ed - Arts & Humanities
  • 6-8 Gen Ed - Natural Science & Lab

Photography Certificate

Get a certificate in photography
Are you looking to update your knowledge of photography or expand your current job skills with subject matter related to photography, but do not wish to enter a degree program? BHSU offers a certificate in Photography.

BHSU has among the finest darkroom and digital imaging facilities in South Dakota and the surrounding region including a new 2000 square foot studio. BHSU also offers black and white and color labs, a film developing area, and a digital imaging lab. This lab is complete with multiple Mac computers, scanners, and various large format and desk-top printing stations.

This certificate is great for high school teachers to expand their knowledge base or be brought up to date on new technology in the field of photography. It is also helpful to any education majors who hope to teach photography in the public schools. Journalists and photographers can stay up to date and learn the latest techniques.

Required Core - 12 semester hours

  • 3 MCOM 265 Basic Photography
  • 3 MCOM 365 Advanced Photography
  • 3 MCOM 367 Color Photography
  • 3 MCOM 465 Contemporary Issues in Photography


» Artist 
» Photographer
     - Portrait/wedding
     - Advertising/fashion
     - Documentary
     - Architectural/industrial
     - Studio product
     - Social media content
» Videographer
» Video Editor
» Photojournalist
» Digital Image technician
» Creative Director
» Museum Gallery Photo Archivist

Joel Grimes teaching a class Canon Sponsorship

The BHSU Bachelor of Fine Arts photography program is proud to have Canon USA as a sponsor. Through Canon’s generous support BHSU photography students have the opportunity to use the latest camera equipment and digital printers available. Canon also sends a Canon Explorer of Light to our campus to give presentations and interact with our students.

Expand Your Experience

Students in the BHSU photography program can expand their classroom experience through various opportunities:

Travel and Cultural Opportunities

At BHSU students have the opportunity to study abroad through faculty-led trips such as the photography departments recent trip to Iceland in 2019. BHSU students have also traveled to photograph the Solar Eclipse and have taken trips to Utah to photograph the southwestern landscapes. Studying abroad, or in the field, will expand their world by providing opportunities for students to experience another culture while receiving a globalized education in photography.

Photography Exhibitions

A foundational belief of the BHSU photography program is that students must exhibit their work as artists/photographers. For that reason, all students in the BHSU photography program will have the opportunity to participate in exhibitions at various campus galleries, photography competitions, and calls for entries.

Shutterbuzz Club

BHSU photography club, Shutterbuzz, focuses on promoting the appreciation for the art of photography while connecting with the community around us. Shutterbuzz activities range from photographic excursions to raising money to help feed the hungry in our community. All students at Black Hills State University are welcome and encouraged to join us whether you have a top of the line DSLR camera or a cell phone.

For more information, contact: Skott Chandler at


Jeremiah Watt creates visual stories and advertising for brands such as Patagonia, Sage Fly Rods, Outdoor Research, Eddie Bauer and Yeti. As an internationally recognized adventure photographer, BHSU alum Watt credits the University’s photography program as the, “Solid foundation that gave me a launching pad for my career.”


Develop valuable personal relationships in a small community with amazing faculty and staff while thriving in the outdoors of the Black Hills.