What is this subject about?

Photography is a fast growing and exciting contemporary medium, and one that is in our everyday life. Photography at Esher College will develop your awareness of the photographic world that is all around you. We focus on developing your technical camera skills, compositional techniques and Photoshop knowledge. We work hard to enhance your appreciation of Photography, teach you how to use our professional studio, and above all help you learn to love the visual world that is ever evolving. The Photography teachers at Esher College all have degrees in Photography and are ex-photography/film making professionals. We therefore teach from a commercial and passionate point of view.

What will I study in the first year?

During the first year of Photography we work with you to develop your camera, Photoshop and studio lighting skills. You will be expected to complete a shoot a week for homework, which will reinforce what you learn in the classroom. You will shoot a wide variety of photographic genres, from fashion to documentary and landscape to portraiture, informed by a variety of photographers, old and new. The emphasis in the first year is skills based which requires a positive work ethic to
keep up with the homework set.

What will I study in the second year?

In the second year you will further explore the skills you have learnt in Year 1 and develop them with one-to-one guidance and regular peer assessment sessions; your own ideas will be nurtured and you will be encouraged to independently explore your chosen style. We will look closely at the relationship between films, art, music and photography. Contemporary issues in Photography, such as airbrushing in magazines and the role of photojournalism in today’s culture, will also be studied. Alongside your practical photography, you will produce a 1500 word essay, which is an integral part of coursework in the second year.

How is the course assessed?

The coursework is 60% and there is a 15 hour timed exam (40%).

What skills will I need and develop in this course?

You should possess a desire to explore this creative subject where hard work, creativity and organisational skills are essential. You will be doing a shoot a week, and an artist study for homework. This hard work will be rewarded by you very quickly being able to shoot to a near professional standard. Photography A Level will teach you how to use and appreciate the technicalities and aesthetics of much of the photography that surrounds you in your everyday life.


​What can the course lead to in terms of higher education and future careers?

Photography is a popular choice at university and some students study a Foundation in Art or Photography before progressing to a creative degree, but many go straight from A Level onto a degree course. Gone are the days where you study Photography, and naturally go on to be a photographer, though that is still an option for a great number of Photography graduates. There is now a diverse range of careers that will be open to a Photographic graduate, from film making and advertising to a career in design or journalism. Last year 45% of our Photography students went on to study Photography at degree level or hoped to do so after doing a Foundation Art/Media course. Top creative universities such as Arts University Bournemouth, University of the Arts London and Nottingham Trent are popular with our students.

Entry Requirements

​What are the formal entry requirements for this course?

Aside from the College’s general entry requirements, evidence of real commitment to this subject is essential. Whilst it is preferable to have a grade 4 or above in GCSE Art or Art & Design or a C grade in Media or Textiles, it is not essential. Students with no previous qualifications in Art or Design, but with a genuine desire to study this subject are advised to contact the Head of Department, and will be required to submit a portfolio of photographs at enrolment. Good grades in essay-based subjects are also key for success in second year units.

Extra Support

​What extra support / enrichment activities are on offer?

We run two residential Photography trips. In the first year students have the opportunity to go on a 3 day Fashion + Documentary Photography residential course. This trip is based on building
professional skills and photographic confidence. We have three professional photographers who run the event, and you will use professional models for the fashion shoots. This is always a popular trip and students relish working with professional photographers and models. In the second year we attend the spectacular Paris Photo exhibition. This is, arguably, the most prestigious and exciting photography exhibitions in Europe. It’s scale and the variety of work is incredibly inspiring. Students spend two nights in Paris, and whilst there we take full advantage of the stunning backdrop and also run a variety of photographic workshops.
At the end of the second year, in conjunction with Media and Film, we hold an Esher College Oscars night. This is a night of glitz, glamour and awards. A suitably celebratory end to their Photography, Media or Film course.
We are also very lucky to have a fully kitted out professional photographic studio that is available to students throughout the College day and after College. This is fully supported by 3 Photography staff.
The photography teachers believe in an open door policy and we are always available and happy to help, outside lessons.

Subject combination advice

​Subject combination advice:

Art, Fashion, 3D Design, Graphic Communication, Media, Film Studies, Maths and English all offer a range of progression routes.