sophomore level course
kansas city art institute

3 credit hour studio course
6 contact hours per week

This course explores color theory, the principles of photography and the photographic image as a method for seeing and a tool for communication. It is a project-based class, aimed toward challenging and expanding both technical and cognitive skills in photographic messaging. We explore connections between photographic form and its content, as an integral part of graphic design. Narrative, documentation and the temporal qualities of the medium are explored both in creating imagery and in analyzing the role of photographic imagery in culture.

key skills

  • color theory
  • design systems
  • narrative
  • photography & image making
  • production

course objectives

  • Creatively demonstrate an understanding of photographic messaging and story-telling
  • Demonstrate a high level of manual and technological craft
  • Apply photographic image-making knowledge and skills to other studio courses
  • Create a series of conceptually and formally related images
  • Discover and capture images of specific color harmonies
  • Experiment with different aspects of image making and how they can be used to manipulate and change the image and the message it delivers
  • Combine different color harmonies and different image relationship manipulation to discover the affects on the image

color harmonies student outcomes

Constructed image poster

Develop a construction, to be photographed as a single image in the studio, that describes a non-fictional person who died before 1984—not a graphic designer. The image will be used as a promotional exhibition banner on the facade of a “hall of fame” museum. Use visual elements that define that person, his or her life’s work, what they are famous for, etc. You will also explore a new method of image-making, photographic story-telling, lighting and production. 


  • Choose and edit visual elements to communicate information and tell a story
  • Manipulate composition, cropping, color, and lighting to affect an image’s meaning and perception
  • Make creative use of the frame
  • Demonstrate impeccable physical and technological craft
  • No photoshop

student outcomes

Digital book covers

Concepting and illustrating story themes. Communicate/illustrate through symbolism and metaphor, the key themes of three short stories.


  • Recognize and identify key written messages and themes
  • Brainstorm and generate lots of ideas and concepts
  • Edit a variety of ideas down to the most compelling
  • Create designs that communicate ideas in an impactful, emotional & memorable way

student outcomes

Visual interviews

In this project you will interview a classmate, write a narrative that describes them—their personality, history of experiences, virtues, hopes and dreams, etc—and using photography and limited text, create a printed piece that tells your story as a visual/tactile experience. 


  • Develop research and interviewing skills and understanding
  • Document a story through writing
  • Design a story using compelling images, impactful color, and strong composition
  • Develop a progression in the story that unfolds with the piece

student outcomes