In year two, students have access to a number of elective courses. Depending on your Major and Minor, these course offerings are either completely optional and can be used to augment your education or may be required to complete your area of specialization. They provide additional techniques to further strengthen the competitive edge you achieve with a NESOP education. From exploring influential movements in art to in-depth electronic marketing, these classes provide you with inspiration and tools for your art and smarter practices for your business.

Required Seminar


The CrossCurrents program is a series of required seminars offered during Year Two of the Professional Photography Program.  These seminars cover a range of topics not broad enough to fill a course, but that are valuable additions to a professional photographer's repertoire.  Delivered by outside subject-specific experts, the CrossCurrents program enhances the learning experience while providing networking opportunities within a familiar academic environment.  

Supplemental Courses

Externship | 6 units

An externship is an opportunity for a second year student to expand upon the photographic skills learned in the classroom in a real-world setting, guided by a professional in a relevant, modern work environment.  Externships offer a broad range of photographic and industry experience, so that students, whether commercially or fine-art focused, are able to take advantage of opportunities that will help them build marketable skills through hands-on experience and begin establishing professional networks long before they graduate.  

Each student will secure his/her own externship, working with an on-site supervisor to create a weekly schedule built around his/her course load.  A list of pre-approved institutions who are interested in working with NESOP students is available in the Academic Office, though students are encouraged to and may secure opportunities from additional institutions.  This course is offered as an elective to all second year students.  

Alternative Process | 3 units

Historical photographic processes are experiencing a resurgence in many areas of professional photography. Today, many fine art and commercial photographers are exploring alternative processes and finding ways to use them in their work. Processes taught and tools used in this course include platinum, Vandyke Brown, cyanotype, palladium, pin-hole camera, emulsion lifts, salt prints and paper negatives. Class critiques address technical and aesthetic aspects of the student images. This course is offered as an elective to all second-year students.

Advanced Business Development | 3 units

Taught by rotating members of the second year faculty and for students preparing to launch their own photography business(es), this course is designed to equip students with advanced business concepts and skills that expand upon the business curriculum already integrated throughout the Professional Photography Program. Students will develop a working knowledge base in key areas such as understanding the photographer’s market, creating a business plan, implementing methods of self-promotion and marketing tools. Pricing, estimates and invoicing for various photographic industries will also be discussed. This course is highly recommended for all second year students.

Online Portfolio & Electronic Marketing | 3 units

In the digital age, a photographer's website is his/her primary marketing tool. This course provides students with a valuable head start prior to entering the job market, building a professional website of their coursework using an effective, subscription-based web template. Weekly lectures will support design choices and effective business tactics, including such concepts as effective home page design, dynamic image galleries, a polished biography, contact pages and blogs. Students will also learn how their sites' integrated search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics put their work in front of potential clients. Once websites are completed, the focus of the course will turn to the underlying fundamentals necessary in developing a successful electronic marketing strategy. Students will learn to use social media and social marketing to present their marketing campaigns to a targeted client base.

Business and Marketing for Weddings | 3 units

This intense course provides students with the business and marketing skills specific to the wedding photography industry. Guest lectures and studio visits offer different approaches to running a successful wedding photography business. From consultations, contracts and pricing to self-promotion, marketing and a live mock wedding, students will leave the class with the necessary tools to market themselves in the wedding industry. This course is offered as an elective to all second-year students.

Advanced Darkroom | 3 units

Advanced Darkroom is offered as a deeper exploration of the black & white photographic medium. Students will strengthen their understanding of exposure, development techniques and darkroom printing skills while being challenged to acquire new skills. The focus of the class is aimed at expanding artistic control of the fine art print. Students may continue to work in small format but are encouraged to explore medium and large format possibilities. This course is suitable for students in the Fine Art major as well as any darkroom enthusiast looking to expand upon their darkroom skills.

Art Since 1945 | 3 units

This intensive fine art theory course surveys the history of art since 1945. Students explore important movements from Modernism to Post-Modernism, including DADA, Bodyworks, Earthworks and other mixed-media approaches. Through slide lectures, short films and intensive readings, the course measures the changing impetus of culture through art, looking not just at photography, but also painting, film, performance and installation art. The term will culminate in a visual/lecture presentation on a featured artist of the student’s choosing. This course is offered as an elective to all second-year students.

Skills Portfolio I | 3 units

Throughout this course students will take their Photoshop abilities to a new level, mastering skills introduced in the first year of our Professional Program. We will focus on developing techniques used for a variety of post-production effects with wide reaching commercial applications, with an emphasis on photo retouching and restoration. Classroom time is spent on the computer with hands-on step-by-step instruction and skill building exercises. At the end of the term, each student will have completed a professional quality skills-based portfolio suitable for procuring entry level post production work.

This course is required for all students.

Skills Portfolio II | 3 units

A continuation of Skills Portfolio I, this course introduces creative applications of Photoshop, with assignments aimed at challenging students to combine imagination and new skills in order to solve conceptual problems. Over the course of the term, students will consider how aesthetics, creative intent and technical execution play pivotal roles in developing style. Class work includes hands-on instruction of advanced Photoshop features such as RGB channels for tricolor effects, alpha channels, luminosity masks and displacement maps. At the end of the term, each student will have completed a portfolio of creative conceptual pieces suitable for procuring commercial editorial and advertising freelance work.

Photo Illustration | 3 units

This course focuses on the creation of digital illustrations through the use of Photoshop and various photographic methods and materials. Students are encouraged to think like painters and sculptors as they merge and manipulate photographs in order to creative provocative digital imagery. Throughout the course, students will complete a cohesive personal project that demonstrates technical skills while also showcasing an evolving personal style. This course is suitable for students in the Fine Art Major interested in digital imaging as well as all Commercial Majors looking to add unique pieces to their portfolios.


Portfolio Review

Year two of the Professional Photography Program ends in individual student portfolio reviews. Portfolio review is a time dedicated to you in which you must present and defend your professional portfolio to the second-year faculty.

You must have your résumé, business card and promotional materials ready, website running and a portfolio (of typically 20 images representing your major and 10 images representing your minor) displayed for faculty viewing, in-depth questioning and critique. To graduate, your portfolio must be accepted by at least a two-thirds vote of the second-year faculty present at the review. Your success in the Professional Photography Program does not guarantee success at portfolio review. That is why portfolio review is so critical and beneficial to you—and ultimately, your future clients.

NESOP alumna, Meredith Carlisle, recalls her portfolio review as, “ of the most exciting and stressful periods of time for me at NESOP. It was the culmination of my two years of learning compressed into a presentation to the entire second-year faculty. I received intense feedback, and I felt that the faculty was incredibly focused and helpful—even the instructors outside my major and minor. In addition to critiquing my work, they pointed out other photographers I might research for further direction and continued growth.”

The week of portfolio reviews and those preceding it are charged with excitement and emotion. This is essentially your final assignment—the one that your two years of study have been leading up to, and one that determines whether or not you will graduate. Portfolio review is very different from the group and individual critiques you receive throughout your NESOP education. When you present your work and yourself for the first time as a professional photographer, you take away job interview skills, new and focused criticism of your work and areas for continued exploration and development. Most important, you come away with the confidence of knowing you can produce and defend a portfolio that experienced professionals find competitive.