Learn the fundamentals of digital photography and build your skills as a visual storyteller while examining the history of photography and its role in the contemporary art world.


Students enrolled in this Studio course will discover the history and practice of digital photography. Guided by expert educators and established artists in the field, our Studio courses offer a unique perspective on traditional studio practice by also incorporating a study of history, markets, and theory.


In this course, students will learn the basics of digital photography, including the technical skills needed to capture their vision and the foundational principles of photographic composition. Students will sharpen their skills in the classroom but also on the streets of New York City and will explore the major artists, styles, and market forces that have shaped the discipline as a whole. This hands-on, multifaceted approach to learning encourages students to deepen their technical knowledge and gain insight into the broader world of photography, as a means of developing critical thinking and visual communication skills.


The program is geared toward students eager to discover their passions, try something new and prepare for college. From studio sessions to site visits, with excursions led by expert practitioners, the Studio program is curated to give students a newfound sense of direction for their future studies. Students will emerge from the course with samples of completed work for their portfolios as well as a deeper understanding of different possible career paths.


Site Visits

This is a new course. Possible site visits may include:

  • The International Center for Photography
  • The Fotografiska Photography Museum
  • Higher Pictures and other famous commercial photo galleries
  • Aperture Foundation
  • The photography holdings of the Museum of Modern Art
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Guest Speakers

Possible guest speakers may include:

  • Photography curators in major museums, such as The Met and the MoMA
  • Professional photographers in their studios
  • Fine photography art dealers
  • Photography collectors


Materials Fee: $295


Please note: This information is subject to change at any time at the discretion of Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Term Dates

Term dates and course availability depend heavily on instructors’ schedules.

  • Term 2 June 21 to July 3

This summer, we’re offering 14 unique courses for Summer Institute students. All courses are open to rising 10th – 12th graders and graduating seniors. Explore the full summer schedule to learn more about course dates.

View Summer Schedule

What is a Studio Course?

Studio courses provide students with an immersive exploration of traditional studio art-making practices alongside a survey of the history, markets, and theory for a single subject area. This hands-on approach to learning enables students to develop deeper appreciation for art and insights about the field. Over the course of a two-week Institute term, students will create original works of art.

Course Highlights

Summer Institute enables students to dive deep into a course of study, sharpening skills for their academic and professional careers. Each course is carefully designed to suit student interests and encourage intellectual curiosity.

  • 1

    Studio Practice: Students will explore the technical capabilities of digital cameras and learn the basic principles of exposure, such as ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, gaining an understanding of how different digital settings interact to capture an image. Students will also study the fundamentals of composition, including the importance of analyzing lines, curves, negative space, and other visual elements to frame a scene.

  • 2

    History: Students will survey the history of photography from its nineteenth-century origins to its contemporary applications in fine art, portraiture, advertising, and fashion. Students will explore the contributions of major twentieth century photographers, such as Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, and Cindy Sherman. Students will also learn about the advent of new digital photographic technologies and platforms to examine implications for the future of the art form.

  • 3

    Markets: Students will gain practical knowledge about photography’s role in the global art market by studying a selection of major contemporary photographers and examining the presence of photographic works in auctions, art fairs, and galleries.

Summer Institute Faculty

Our instructors are award-winning Sotheby's Institute faculty, recognized thought leaders and professional experts in the art world. Each faculty member structures their course around real-time conversations defining their professions and helps students master the unique forces at play in the art world.

Summer Institute Faculty

Experience New York

  • New York City New York City

    With New York City as their campus, students will have access to all the city has to offer, attending field trips, site visits and special events.

  • Speaker Series Speaker Series

    Summer Institute students have unique opportunities to connect with the most accomplished artists and art professionals working today.

  • Housing Housing

    Summer Institute students have the option of living on campus in the university dormitories or commuting to class from their local residence.

  • Dining Dining

    University cafeteria-style dining halls serve a wide variety of healthy alternatives for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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