Digital Photography: Creating a Professional Portfolio Course - The Open University


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Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description


Navigate the fast-moving technological developments in digital photography and build a professional portfolio you’re proud of.

Take your digital photography skills to a professional level

According to IbisWorld, the photographic industry grew by 2.1% between 2014-2019, and demand for professional photography and digital imagery is expected to continue to increase.

Most people own a camera that would’ve been the envy of professionals 10 years ago, but it takes more than clicking to create amazing digital images.

On this microcredential, you’ll explore the theory and practicalities of digital imaging, from how light refracts through a camera lens to what makes a visually pleasing scene.

As well as theoretical work, you’ll tackle a series of hands-on assignments designed to progress your technical and artistic skill and share them with a supportive online community.

You’ll experiment in applying a range of photography techniques to a specialist photographic genre–from nature and people to architecture and fine art–challenging you to step outside of your photographic comfort zone.

Each week, you’ll learn from a different genre guide prepared by specialist photographers or leading industry partners, as you split your time between practical image capture and editing and online theory.

You’ll also dedicate two hours a week to online peer review, in order to critique and learn from the work of others.

You’ll use the diverse range of work you create to build a photography portfolio for professional work in photography.

This microcredential meets the standards set by the Common Microcredential Framework.

What skills will you learn?

  • Digital image capture technologies
  • Advanced techniques and photographic practices
  • Image capture
  • Photo editing
  • Critically evaluate images
  • Develop a professional portfolio
  • Communicate vision and intent
  • Images and social media

When would you like to start?

We aim to run our microcredentials every few months. Join on the date that suits you or register to hear from an enrolment advisor about future runs and updates.

  • 2 November 2020

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:

  • Apply photographic techniques to create interesting images in the genre of your choice.
  • Produce high-quality digital images using a combination of manual methods and editing software.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the internal workings of modern cameras (including smartphones) and how they create images.
  • Develop your own photographic style and give constructive feedback on others.
  • Identify different photographic genres and the most effective techniques used in each.

What you will receive

10 UK credits at Undergraduate level from The Open University

Credits are awarded on passing the final assessment. The assessment requires you submit a panel of images in a genre of your choice and a written Statement of Intent as part of a cohesive portfolio of work.

A Certificate in Photography from The Royal Photographic Society

The certificate is free to members of the Society or available for an additional £12 for non-members.

Additional benefits

If you wish to continue your studies, the microcredential has been designed to give you the necessary basic skills to tackle The Royal Photographic Society Licentiate Distinction (LRPS) in still photography. You may also wish to discover more about the Associate (ARPS) Distinction and submit your body of work to be recognised for its creativity and communication.

Are you eligible for this microcredential?

  • To join this microcredential, it’s recommended you have a basic understanding of photographic techniques and digital photo-editing and have basic computer skills.
  • You’ll need a camera that creates images as digital files and it should have some controls and settings (eg shutter speed, aperture or automatic settings). It’s possible to complete the course using a smartphone with a reasonable camera.
  • You’ll also need photo-editing software on your computer, smartphone or device. You’ll use a variety of commercial and free tools including Photoshop, Affinity and others.
  • All teaching is in English.

Is this microcredential right for you?

This microcredential is designed for competent photographers who want to take their skills to the next level and improve their photography as part of their professional work.

If you want to move from photography hobbyist to a professional level photographer, this course will support you to build the tools, knowledge, and portfolio to get there.

Who will you learn with?

Georgina Holden

I'm Georgy Holden, Senior Lecturer at the Open University. I've taught at the OU for over 35 years and lead the Design and Innovation degree. I'm also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Stephen Peake

I am Senior Lecturer in Environment at The OU leading courses on Photography, Renewables, and Climate Change. Fellow, Judge Business School and Senior Associate CISL, University of Cambridge.

Michael Dodd

I am an ecologist and photographer working at the Open University.

Jon Rosewell

I am a senior lecturer at The Open University, UK, where I develop and deliver distance learning in a range of subjects.

Career-focused learning by

The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

This microcredential is endorsed by Royal Photographic Society

This microcredential is presented in partnership with The Royal Photographic Society. The RPS is the United Kingdom's leading photography organisation.

What is a microcredential?

Microcredentials are designed to upskill you for work in rapidly-growing industries, without the time and cost commitment of a full degree. Your microcredential can stand alone as an independent credential, and some also offer academic credit to use towards a degree.

Learn Online With Expert Instructors

Complete online courses led by experts over 12-16 weeks with a dedicated group of professionals.


Complete Project-Based Assessments

Test your understanding with online tutor-marked assessments and exercises.


Earn A Professional Credential

Finish your learning and pass your assessments to gain an accredited credential.


Advance Further In Your Career

Use your microcredential as evidence of your specialised skills and progress further in your industry.

Last updated Sep 2020

About the School

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses.

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses. Read less
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