Ridgewater College’s photography program moves entirely online, weekly in-person labs will still be available


According to a press release from the college, students have requested since before the pandemic that the program be offered online.

“We believe it’s the right decision at the right time,” Wade McDonald, one of the college’s professional photography instructors, said in the statement.

READ MORE: There were 114 new cases of COVID reported in west-central Minnesota on Tuesday

“This extension gives the student more flexibility by giving them more options,” said Amy Pawelk, second instructor of photography.

In the new arrangements, students can check the equipment they need and do their homework on their own schedule. Weekly hands-on lab time with instructors will be available on the college’s Willmar and Hutchinson campuses.

The program will still offer the 60-credit associate in applied science, the 64-credit diploma, and the new 29-credit certificate. Fall and spring departures will be available.

All mandatory courses that focus on everything from photography concepts, editing software, and portrait and commercial photography will be online, along with most electives. The optional real estate photography course will require a few campus visits at this time.

Equipment loan program

Because students cannot afford to own all the equipment they will need, the college is planning to expand the equipment loan program. “Our equipment control program is a tremendous asset to the education of our students,” said McDonald.

With the new plan, local students can check out and pick up more equipment while distant students can request that it be shipped. Equipment crate can include lights, stands, backgrounds, etc.

“The more time students have with the equipment, the better prepared they are for the industry,” said McDonald.

Other changes in the program are the removal of course prerequisites and the offering of the photography certificate to supplement other fields of study.

“A solid understanding of the concepts of photography can be a valuable asset for people studying or currently working in marketing, communications, business and more,” said Pawelk.

Photography and design

The changes could benefit the students of the Photography and Design Program, too much.

About a year ago, the faculty launched the Combined Photography and Design program with the goal of providing students with a broader skill set for producing social media content, advertising and more.

The program allows students to compete in the job market by having a skill set for companies hiring in the field of visual communication careers, McDonald said.

Amy Maher, a multimedia design technology trainer, said developing a photography lab on the Hutchinson campus would be a boon for students and faculty.

Maher will continue to offer her own individual lab time and students will also have access to the collaborative creativity lab called CreateSpace. It gives students of many programs a special place to work together.

For more information on the Professional Photography or Photography and Design programs, visit www.ridgewater.edu/artanddesign. To meet the professors and ask questions, check out the upcoming information sessions on April 8 at 5:30 p.m. and May 14 at 9:00 a.m.

  • Click on here to register for information sessions.

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