Undergraduate

  • Are there exhibition opportunities for Photo majors?
    Yes. The department has its own large exhibition gallery on the fourth floor of the Design Center, the Red Eye Gallery. During the fall, the Red Eye hosts exhibitions of work from ongoing classes and entering graduate students. In the spring semester of the senior year, each major is required to mount a public exhibition of his/her degree project in the gallery, usually sharing the space with another student. In addition, Photo majors have an annual exhibition at Woods-Gerry Gallery, a lively and well-attended campus event.
  • Does the Photo Department offer courses in commercial photography?
    While many of the technical and conceptual skills learned in the RISD Photo curriculum are applicable to commercial fields such as advertising, fashion and editorial photography, the department emphasizes the development of a fine arts practice. We feel that we are training students for a rich, life-long engagement with photography, whether they choose to support themselves in the commercial, entertainment, freelance, nonprofit or educational worlds. That said, we offer elective courses in Professional Practice that allow students to visit commercial studios and photo agencies and meet with working professional photographers. We also have a very successful internship program that grants majors elective credits for on-the-job experience and helps them make contacts with potential employers.
  • How many students are in the Photography Department? How many faculty?
    The department has approximately 60 undergraduate (BFA) students and 14 graduate (MFA) students. Currently, we have five full-time faculty members and approximately 12 part-time faculty members.
  • How much access do students have to equipment and facilities outside of class?
    Photo majors may check out equipment and use the labs in the Design Center as they are trained to use them. As with most equipment-intensive majors at risd, each required course introduces students to increasingly sophisticated tools and techniques, including larger format cameras, lighting kits, high-resolution film scanning, advanced digital printing at large sizes, video editing, higher-end darkrooms, etc. By the spring of the junior year, majors have fluid access to all labs and equipment in the department. The Design Center is open 24 hours a day by card swipe; your RISD id card will also be keyed to allow access to departmental labs as you progress through the curriculum.

  • What do graduates do after leaving RISD’s Photo program?
    RISD’s Photography alumni are among the most distinguished fine art and professional photographers in their fields. Their work has been included in prestigious exhibitions and venues such as the Whitney Biennial, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Tribeca and Sundance Film Festivals. While preparation for a fine arts career is the main emphasis of the program, many students find gratifying careers in design, commercial and independent media, web services, picture editing, arts administration, art criticism, secondary and higher education, and many other fields that demand visual/verbal literacy and exceptional skills in techniques of visual communication.


  • What is the philosophy of RISD’s Photography Department?
    The photographic image is the fundamental unit of visual meaning in contemporary culture. Whether in the service of the mass media, posted on the web, embedded in the stream of images that makes up a film or video, contemplated in a book, or exhibited as an object in an art gallery, the photograph’s power as a conveyor of cultural meaning is indisputable. It is our passion and mission to explore this medium as fully as possible in order to understand how the photographic image functions as a primary producer and product of contemporary culture.
Photo foreground image 3
Karen Ludlam, Effigy, archival inkjet print