Department Head: Steven Smith
RISD approaches photography as an ever-changing set of technical, conceptual and aesthetic conditions that exist within a broad social and cultural context. Students delve into the making, presentation and interpretation of photographic images, exploring photography as both a language and a craft. Ultimately, they learn how to use cultural signifiers, symbols and metaphors in the content and structure of image making. After learning the fundamentals of film processing and darkroom printing, students move on to experiment with digital capture, high-end printing at medium and large scales, video, installation work and other approaches of their choice.
Photography alumni pursue a wide range of options after graduation, with some going on to specialize in commercial or editorial photography and/or video, while others teach, run their own businesses, make and exhibit fine art photography or do a combination of commercial and fine art work. Most become lifelong image-makers adept at expressing a unique way of seeing the world.
“Understanding a photograph furthers our understanding of the world – one picture at a time. This, in turn, enables us to better express our thoughts and effectively communicate through imagery. In this department, we aim to foster an understanding of the world through the study of photography so that graduates are equipped to engage with the world in a meaningful way.” - Steven Smith, former Department Head