Professional Photography

Program Pathway

Professional Photography Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) degree

The first year of the Professional Photography program is designed to teach you the basics of photographing, printing, and finishing your photos. It will also give you a sample of all three of the specializations available during your second year.

Second year students can choose a specialty or a combination of specialties. Specialize in Portrait Photography, Commercial Photography, and/or Digital Technician.

  • Portrait Photographer: Specializes in families, children, pets, weddings, seniors, sports, and event photography. You will learn advanced posing and lighting in studio and on location. Many graduates have gone on to have very successful studios!

  • Commercial Photographer: Create images for magazines, catalogs, advertising, and products. You will learn advanced tabletop studio lighting and much more. You can choose to travel or work from a home studio anywhere!

  • Digital Technician: The computer specialists of the photo industry. Learn how to finish photos to perfection using Photoshop and beyond! Skills include advanced retouch, digital printing, compositing, and creating collages and posters.

Program Details

Award Associate of Applied Arts (AAA)
Credits 66
Program Start Fall
Number of Terms 4
Time to Complete 2 years
Admissions Application Select Academic Program:
Professional Photography – AAA
See Program Admission

Suggested Sequence of Study and Cost

Program Courses

Term 1
  • Camera I
  • Introduction to Image Editing
  • Photo Design I
  • Print I
Term 2
  • Basic Commercial Photography
  • Basic Portraiture
  • Camera II
  • Intermediate Electronic Imaging
  • Print II
Term 3
  • Intermediate Portraiture -OR-
    Intermediate Commercial
  • Portrait Business -OR-
    Commercial Business
  • Portrait Image Editing -OR-
    Commercial Image Editing
Term 4
  • Advanced Portrait Image Editing -OR-
    Advanced Commercial Image Editing
  • Portrait Production and Portfolio -OR-
    Commercial Production and Portfolio
Electives — Term 3
  • Art Direction
  • Commercial Business
  • Commercial Image Editing
  • Intermediate Commercial
  • Intermediate Portraiture
  • Portrait Business
  • Portrait Image Editing
  • Visual Communication
Electives — Term 4
  • Advanced Commercial Image Editing
  • Advanced Commercial Lighting
  • Advanced Portrait Image Editing
  • Audio Visual Presentations
  • Commercial Production and Portfolio
  • Fine Art Photography
  • History of Photography
  • Portrait Production and Portfolio
  • Wedding Photography

See the Suggested Sequence of Study for the full list of courses, cost, and additional course details.

You have completed the Professional Photography Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) degree program. Check out the Computers and Technology continuing education courses to keep up to date in your profession.



Graduates find jobs in professional photography studios and color labs, corporate photography departments, and advertising agencies. Many graduates also go on to start their own photography business or do freelance work.

Example Careers and Average Wages

Entry Average Experienced
Photographers $17,600 $32,200 $39,500

Source: 2021 Iowa Wage Report, Iowa Workforce Development

Independent contractors and business owner salaries may be higher based on graduate and advisory member surveys.


The following is a partial list of employers who have hired graduates from this program:

Business Location
DC Shoes, Inc. Huntington Beach, CA
John Deere Moline, IL
Meredith Corporation Des Moines, IA
Read Photography Cedar Rapids, IA
Stalzer Photography Marshalltown, IA

Program Contacts

Email Admissions 319-296-4000 Hawkeye Center 114
Academic/College Success Advisor
Alex Kissel Email Alex Kissel 319-296-4014 ext.1065 Bremer Hall 124
Faculty Advisor
Adam Hunter Email Adam Hunter 319-296-2329 ext.1293 Black Hawk Hall 181A
Faculty Advisor
Doug Benton Email Doug Benton 319-296-2329 ext.1438 Black Hawk Hall 181A
Administrative Assistant
Kate Childers Email Kate Childers 319-296-4007 Black Hawk Hall 258
Catharine Freeman Email Catharine Freeman 319-296-4041 Black Hawk Hall 258B

Take a closer look. Learn the fun side of college.

Check out what Hawkeye has to offer you!

Back to top