Core Photography Camp |

Core Photography Camps

2 & 3 Week
Ages 13-18
New York | Los Angeles | Vermont

SOCAPA’s Core Photography intensives can be taken as Digital Only (students use Digital SLR cameras) or as Darkroom & Digital (students use both 35mm SLR and Digital SLR cameras). Other than the capture format and a few afternoon technical classes, the programs share the same curriculum, exercises and “Faces and Places” theme. The “Faces” component of the program emphasizes the art of capturing the human condition on camera. Students learn what makes a good photograph by studying the aesthetics of master photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Sally Mann, Walker Evans, Diane Arbus and Robert Frank. Students learn the fundamentals of composition and natural lighting as well as studio portrait techniques.

The “Places” component of the program reminds students to never forget where they are. Photography, even in the studio, does not take place in a vacuum. New York City, Los Angeles, and the diverse landscapes of Vermont offer a wealth of photographic opportunities as well as some of the world’s most exciting collections of visual art. Field trips are planned on an almost-daily basis. Students spend more time learning and practicing photographic techniques in the parks, streets and museums of their host city than they do in the traditional classroom.

Digital and/or 35mm
Digital Focus

With a focus on digital photography, students begin their week with an in-depth lesson in the workings of their digital camera. From there, students move quickly out of the classroom and into the field on Photo Safaris. Instructors take the students on field trips to interesting areas of the city where they will complete a variety of photography assignments, including landscapes and street portraits. The program culminates in learning professional photo re-touching in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Digital & 35mm Focus

With a focus on both digital as well as traditional 35mm B&W photography, students will learn how to operate both a digital and a 35mm camera. Students will then split their time between learning post-production developing in the digital lab as well as in the darkroom. Students will learn intermediate to advanced Lightroom and Photoshop techniques, but their time using those programs will be less than in the Digital Photography intensive.

Studio Photography

Photography studios provide a controlled environment in which to make your photographic dreams possible. Studio Lighting and backgrounds create dynamic portraits and beautiful professional headshots.

Students learn intermediate portrait lighting techniques and have ample opportunity to experiment with studio photography through photographing their classmates, SOCAPA Actors, Musicians, Dancers and themselves!

In addition to the above, students learn advanced portrait lighting techniques and have more opportunities to experiment in the studio during the Themed Portfolio project the third week.

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Lightroom & Photoshop

Beginning with introductory lessons in Lightroom, students will learn to import, organize and rank their photographs in a digital workspace. After making their selects, students will learn to develop their photographs using various digital scopes and meters to measure and balance exposure and color. From there, students can continue to effect their photographs using Adobe Photoshop - adding masks, vignettes, burning and dodging, or adding whole new image layers and compositions. After learning the basics, intermediate and advanced techniques will be directed by student interest and their individual project needs.


Starting with the basics, students will learn how to develop 35mm film in the darkroom. Students will then print their photographs using enlargers and chemical baths. Working in the darkroom provides students with an opportunity to slow down, spend time with each image, and really understand the impacts that technical and aesthetic choices have on a final photograph. Learning to develop film and prints informs how students think about light, time, and photography as a whole. Students get the chance to work in professional darkrooms, sharing equipment and methods that have been refined over the lifetime of photography.

The Cartier-Bresson

Guided by lessons on composition, street photography and techniques for safely and confidently approaching subjects, students will take to the streets, capturing candid portraits, human interactions, architectural street scenes, and urban details. This assignment takes its name from Henri Cartier-Bresson, an early 20th century master of street photography and father of photojournalism, who coined the expression the "decisive moment." Practice of the "decisive moment" encourages students to capture that fleeting creative instant in which everything in the frame comes together to create the best possible image. Through this exercise, students will build an awareness of framing, light, color, form, line, and pattern and will learn to make a multitude of aesthetic choices, to create technically strong and emotionally compelling compositions.

The Hurrell

After completing a "Headshot Workshop," including a creative portraiture and natural lighting lesson, photographers will be paired up with students from the SOCAPA acting programs to create professional studio headshots, portraits, and action photographs. Students will gain a basic knowledge of studio set-up, learning to control strobe lighting using equipment such as soft boxes and grids, creating a "drop-out white" background for professional headshots, and lighting subjects for dramatic, creative portraits. Photographers will gain the valuable skills needed to successfully direct photo subjects while experiencing the excitement of working in a professional studio environment. This project takes its name from George Hurrell, the famous Golden Age Hollywood MGM photographer.

The Sherman

Students in the two week program will have the opportunity to create a series of creative self-portraits. Students will be encouraged to think outside the box, discovering what they want to say about themselves and translating this into images using in-camera techniques, costumes, props, lighting and/or Photoshop compositing. In addition to practicing the creative controls of shutter speed and depth of field, students will learn to work with self timers, tripods and manual focus. This project will stress the importance of conceptualization, metaphor, symbolism and self-expression, teaching from the work of photographers such as Cindy Sherman, Nikki S. Lee, Gillian Wearing and Andy Warhol.

The Cameron

Students will tell a story by creating a narrative photographic series. These projects are tailored to each student's interest and can be elaborate, conceptualized fictions or non-fictional documentaries of person or place. Students will study the work of Julia Margaret-Cameron, Duane Michals, Alec Soth, Gregory Crewdson and Danny Lyon, historical and contemporary photographers who successfully tell photographic stories with a variety of inspiring approaches.

Movie Posters

For this assignment, three-week photography students work with the filmmakers and actors to create a movie poster concept for display at the final screening. Photographers study the graphics and typography of well-known movie posters, then create one image to represent their assigned film. Students will learn to integrate text and graphics into their images and will employ advanced Photoshop compositing skills to bring their ideas to life.

Los Angeles Campus

Los Angeles, CA

Students at our Los Angeles summer campus enjoy the advantages of being in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world. Chosen as home base by the film industry because of its nonstop sunshine and beautiful scenery, Hollywood, California, has become synonymous with making movies. SOCAPA's summer camps in LA are held at Occidental College, known as the Princeton of the West.

Los Angeles Campus Details
New York City Campuses

New York City

SOCAPA has two campuses in New York City. Our pre-college campus for ages 15-18 is located in the East Village of Manhattan at Astor Place where we use NYU facilities (classrooms, studios, theaters) and the New School's Residence Hall. Our shorter boot camp programs for younger high school students are hosted at Pratt University and FGSC on the Steiner Studios Film Lot in Brooklyn. Our Brooklyn Campus is temporarily closed.

New York City Campus Details
Burlington Vermont Campus


SOCAPA has two summer camp locations in Vermont: one at Champlain College, situated in the picturesque city of Burlington, and the other at the Burke Mountain Hotel in East Burke, a summer haven for mountain biking and other outdoor sports.

Vermont Campuses Details
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If you have any questions, please send us a message. We will contact you ASAP.

TOLL FREE USA: 1.800.718.2787

LOCAL NY + NON-USA: 646.828-3558

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