Photography Major and Minor

Eastern Mennonite University offers one of the few photography majors (and minor) at a Christian college. Our program emphasizes proficiency in the digital arena. Students learn studio/field practices, study visual theory, and engage the community through documentary work. The EMU photo program unfolds in the context of our Christian liberal arts community, a multicultural, peace-oriented environment that values effective cross-cultural communication and passionate engagement with the world. We prepare students for a range of photographic possibilities from studio/freelance positions to further graduate training.

View student photography and digital media imagery in our online gallery

Photographs by Carrie Keagy (part of a book project for Color Photo class)

Aerial Photography by Jonathan Bush - Eastern Mennonite University
Aerial photographs by Jonathan Bush (part of project exploring the relationship between the natural world and development. Right-click on the image to open a larger version.)

One unique course offered at EMU is Conservation Photography at Eastern Mennonite University – the intersection of photography and environmental preservation. Explore the bio-diversity of the Appalachian region through underwater photography, macro work, and other techniques. Learn more.

Northern two-lined salamander, Tomahawk Pond, Virginia
Northern two-lined salamander at Tomahawk Pond, Virginia

Internship opportunities abound in the EMU/Harrisonburg area. Several of our visual and communication arts students have gained important work experience as photo interns for Fairfield Language Technologies, makers of Rosetta Stone, the world’s leading language learning software. Other students have gone further afield to intern for newspapers in Washington D.C. or at National Geographic Adventure in New York City. Students regularly volunteer at the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards in Washington, D.C. and have an opportunity to meet top conservation photographers.

Students in VACA photo classes have access to our collection of over twenty Canon digital SLRs and lenses at no charge (beyond standard lab fees). In addition to mid-level SLRs for intro students, the collection includes high end Canon SLRs for HD video production and an infrared camera for alternative processes. We have more than thirty additional lenses available for checkout. These include macro, telephoto, fisheye and high end prime lenses. With the addition of our Conservation Photo class, students now have access to underwater cameras and auto-triggered field cameras.

The Advanced Media Lab, home to our advanced Photoshop, video editing and 2-D animation classes, features fifteen 27 inch (Intel based) iMacs, a large HD display, Apple TV, a Blu-ray projector and a surround sound system. Software includes Adobe Creative Studio apps and Final Cut Pro. Our intro digital media lab features fifteen iMacs and Adobe software for digital photo editing and web design.

Career Possibilities

Curious about the vocational possibilities for EMU alums? Visit our VACA careers page

See our faculty page for examples of faculty work.

Media Coverage

VACA student work has received attention from national and international media. The Washington Post covered our class documentary on the Kurdish community in Harrisonburg, and the BBC ran student photos from the documentary on their Web site.

Photograph by Dustin Galyon (Documentary Photography class)

Photography Major

The major in photography consists of 49 semester hours.

VaCA Core (12 credits)

PHOTO 112 Digital Photography (3)
ART 111 Foundations of Design (3)
COMM 332 Cinema and Visual Communication Theory (3)
DIGM 213 Graphic Design (3)

Additional photography major courses

*PHOTO 478 Documentary Photography (3)
PHOTO 352 Color Photography (3)
PHOTO 464 Advanced Photoshop (3)
*PHOTO 489 Studio Photography (3)
DIGM 261 Web Design (3)
*ART 323 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art (3)
ART 492 Senior Studio Practicum (4)

Gallus gallus and Homo sapien
Steven David Johnson, Chair of Visual and Communication Arts


Choose five courses from the following list:
*PHOTO 375 Photography Print and Portfolio Workshop (3)
*PHOTO 361 Conservation Photography (3)
*PHOTO 376 Alternative Photo Processes (3)
ART 141 Drawing (3)
ART 321 Survey of Western Art (3)
COMM 231 Pop Culture and Mass Communication (3)
COMM 241 News and Feature Writing (3)
DIGM 362 Social Media Applications (3)

Photography Minor

The minor in photography consists of 18 semester hours.

COMM 332 Cinema and Visual
Communication Theory (3)
PHOTO 112 Digital Photography (3)
PHOTO 352 Color Photography (3)

Choose three courses (9 SH) from the PHOTO offerings.

For more information about the courses see the course description.
For additional information about the curricula see the course catalog..