Bachelor in Fine Arts reels in photography

By Parker Purifoy, Emerson '21

Junior and senior visual and media arts majors can begin the Bachelor of Fine Arts program with a photography focus for the first time starting fall 2018.

These changes are all under the Media Arts Production BFA, a degree that requires more credits from major classes, rather than electives, than the Bachelor of Arts. While visual and media arts majors interested in photography have always been able to go through this BFA program, they will now be able to use their workshop time to complete a photo project.

“Photography students could get a BFA, but the workshops they took were always focused on film,” professor Lauren Shaw said. “So with the photography workshops, they will be with like-minded people.”

Shaw, who teaches photography at Emerson, said her students always wanted to take more than one semester of the class.

“There’s so much talent, and they want to do an in-depth year of finding their voice and a photography project that’s not interrupted,” she said.

Professor Camilo Ramirez said he had a number of students who wanted to major in photography but couldn’t.

“It was never a flood of people, but there were always some students who wanted to do more of it in a concentrated way,” Ramirez said. “We wouldn’t be offering [the BFA option] if we didn’t think students were asking for it or would benefit from it in some way.”

Sophomore visual and media arts major Renata Brockmann learned about the new BFA option from Ramirez.

Brockmann said she thought the new BFA track would help meet the demand for a more developed photography curriculum.

“This is coming at a great time,” Brockmann said. “I definitely see a lot of people who are interested in heading that way with their careers.”

Shaw said she is hoping to expand the photography section of the visual and media arts department even further in the coming years by introducing critical studies in photography classes and a lighting course.

Challenges would include finding space and equipment for courses and hiring new faculty to teach them. She said she hopes these additions will come in the future, but the current focus is on building interest in photography on campus.

Ramirez also said he hopes to continue to expand the presence of photography at Emerson.

“I think students should have the opportunity to explore any medium they want at any level, so I think this just increases choice across the curriculum,” he said.

Juniors can apply for the BFA program starting this spring.