Professional Photography



This course is about photographic imaging, photography as a business, a course for professionals.  Students will learn skills which will enable them to develop as fully qualified professionals in a enjoyable environment.  It also prepares students for further study at degree level and onward journey in education.


Successful completion of this course will result in a QQI Photography Level 6 Certificate, 6M3732.

Entry Requirements

  • Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Applied, or equivalent
  • Photography Level 5 QQI Award  or equivalent
  • Mature applicants with relevant experience are welcome

Entry to this course is subject to interview.


  • Advertising Photography 6N3726
  • Documentary Production 6N5451
  • Fashion Photography 6N3611
  • Fine Art Photography 6N3449
  • History Photography 6N3730
  • Portrait Photography 6N3694
  • Communications  6N1950
  • Work Experience 6N1964


Art, advertising, commercial, portrait, fashion photography will be explored – both on location and studio photography in a pro workshop environment.  Emphasis is on ‘hands on’ digital photography in different formats and modern techniques of digital image processing and printing.  Another focus is on commercial photography and the business of professional photography including the sale of images in the international stock photography market via websites and on-line photo agencies.

This professional photography course is divided equally into workshop style lectures with demonstrations and practical photography commercial and lifestyle assignments in exiting locations. The emphasis is on practical experience with ‘real life’ type photographic assignments.  On local field trips the students are encouraged to engage in landscape photography focusing on the special light and the artistic structures, shapes and tones in the west  of Ireland.

The photography teacher is a professional photographer with years of experience in the business of photography which will also be discussed as part of the curriculum.  This professional photography course focuses on practical, technical, creative and business skills required in the real world of professional photography.


Field trips

We encourage gaining experience by practical photography on field trips and have designed our assessment and project briefs to include interesting locations around Clew Bay and the Islands. Dublin is also on our agenda to visit art and photo exhibitions.


Studio Facilities

  • Cameras
  • Studio Flash Lighting equipmentfor portrait, fashion. advertising and still life work.
  • Mac and PC Computerswith up to date software for editing and image processing.
  • Printing equipment

Student Testimonial


Having had to change my career later in life I decided to retrain as a professional photographer as I have been a keen amateur photographer for years.  I researched various courses and decided on Westport College of Further Education due to the class size and the great equipment available in the studio.  The course is taught by a professional photographer and I have learned so much about lighting, studio work, outside photoshoots, advertising etc. The other modules of Fine Art, Communications and History of Art are also really interesting.  The class has a mix of all ages and experience.  Overall the course is a very busy course but well worth doing.


Applicants are asked to pay a non-refundable €50 Administration/Application fee on submission of their Application Form.  Once you have applied you will be called for an interview within a few weeks.  QQI examination fees cost €80, although Medical Card holders are exempt from paying this fee on production of a valid medical card.  Books and essential class materials, including a digital SLR camera, may also be required.  A €200 Government levy will apply on acceptance of a place on PLC course, but medical card holders and those in receipt of a maintenance grant will be exempt.  A €50 Student Service fee also applies.




Advertising Photography 6N3726

Commercial still life in the studio, architecture, corporate and lifestyle shoots on location.  The focus is on photography as a business.  This module will enable the learner to:

  • Report on the processes of advertising including marketing styles and concepts
  • Revise the instructions from a clients brief
  • Direct new and innovative ideas when exploring the brief
  • Lead ideas with a design group, agency staff and web/print publisher
  • Prioritise photographic techniques that highlight the concept that is being explored
  • Devise the most appropriate cameras for the clients brief including 35mm digital, medium and large format equipment
  • Report on the processes of advertising including marketing styles and concepts
  • Revise the instructions from a clients brief
  • Direct new and innovative ideas when exploring the brief
  • Lead ideas with a design group, agency staff and web/print publisher
  • Prioritise photographic techniques that highlight the concept that is being explored
  • Devise the most appropriate cameras for the clients brief including 35mm digital, medium and large format equipment

Assessment Criteria: Project 30%, Portfolio/Collection of Work 40%, Learner Record 30%

Documentary Production 6N5451

The purpose of this award is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to work independently or with others to formulate a range of creative skills and processes for the production of documentaries

Learners will be able to:

  • Explore the general history of documentary and the documentary filmmakers who forwarded the field
  • Examine various styles of documentary filmmaking to include historical, biographical, personal, fly on the wall, investigative, human interest, wildlife and experimental
  • Identify the key components of production for each style of documentary
  • Examine probability theory to include the likelihood of access, obtaining interviews, budget, archive footage and permission
  • Define a documentary’s statement of purpose and goals
  • Perform comprehensive research of chosen topic and organise in an efficient manner
  • Explore all possible footage relating to the subject of documentary
  • Examine the procedures of ordering screening copy and master footage
  • Examine different interview genres creating a style that best works with a specific documentary
  • Explore the basic principles in interviewing different subjects to include issues like compassion and
  • Examine how to request an interview through appropriate channels and how to schedule interviews with various restrains
  • Examine the basic format of a treatment to include the opening, body and conclusion
  • Define usage of timecode and how to incorporate it into a treatment
  • Examine the roles and hierarchy of a production crew
  • Compile a list of topics without judgement of ideas
  • Devise schedule of production to include interviews, writing of script, revisions, edit schedules, notes and post

Assessment Criteria: Project – 50%, Assignment – 50%

 Fashion Photography 6N3611

Fashion photography in a photographic studio and on professional tutors

Learners will be able to:

  • Examine the processes of fashion photography including marketing concepts and house styles
  • Interpret the instructions from a client’s brief
  • Generate new and innovative ideas when exploring a brief
  • Assess the factors to be taken in to consideration when planning a fashion shoot to include model selection, make up, lighting, location settings and weather conditions
  • Evaluate design principles to include composition, colour and layouts
  • Prioritise cameras common to fashion photography including digital 35mm SLR and medium format
  • Devise lighting techniques required for a wide range of fashion photo shoots
  • Select appropriate lenses for every shoot
  • Predict the effects of various forms of lighting included direct diffused and directed
  • Organise a variety of lighting kits including studio, portable and camera mounted flash units
  • Assess Health and Safety issues within a photography studio and on location
  • Work both independently and as part of a team in a disciplined professional manner
  • Organise effective research, time management, costings and self evaluation.

Assessment Criteria: Portfolio/Collection of Work 40%, Project 30%, Learner Record 30%

Fine Art Photography 6N3449

Photography as an art form and preparation for photo exhibitions.  Learners will be able to:

  • Explore the history of photography in the context of 19th century fine art
  • Appraise the major technological advances of the photographic industry and their influence on fine art applications
  • Explore the development and enhancement of creativity through the practice of photography
  • Appraise the relationship of own work to the influences of a number of past and present fine art photographers
  • Implement a conceptual approach to the development of personal work
  • Establish a comprehensive approach to the choice of equipment and material with emphasis on their suitability for the specific task to be undertaken
  • Utilise a diverse range of techniques, lighting situations, angles of view and perspective to ensure work realises its potential
  • Generate a body of personal work in a format that enhances and facilitates the realisation of the original concept
  • Implement a range of creative approaches that fully explore the potential of the brief
  • Assemble a portfolio of work suitable for presentation at interview and or for exhibition in a gallery or public venue
  • Evaluate own work from a well-informed personal perspective that takes into account contemporary theories and practice
  • Work in a disciplined, methodical manner both in terms of a solo practitioner and as part of a team
  • Implement effective research, time management and self evaluation skills.

Assessment Criteria: Portfolio/Collection of Work 40%, Project 30%, Learner Record 30%

History of Photography 6N3730

This module explores the technical, theoretical and cultural influence on photography from its invention to present day.  Learners will be able to:

  • Explain key developments in the history of photography
  • Formulate a critical understanding of particular movements and approaches in photography and their evolution in line with changing social, political, cultural and economic conditions
  • Identify issues around the politics of representation including contemporary photographic dilemmas and debates
  • Evaluate some of the parallels between photography, filmmaking and the visual arts
  • Describe the relevance and intention of a range of key critical theory texts
  • Critically evaluate personal practice relating it to specific histories and theoretical debates
  • Explain the function and reading of photography in contemporary society
  • Describe how technological innovation has influenced the practice of photographers working within selected genres
  • Appraise basic principles of semiotic theory
  • Summarise the work of individual practitioners who have pioneered specific approaches to photography
  • Work both independently and as part of a research team in a disciplined professional manner
  • Appreciate the need for planning, research, time management and self evaluation techniques.

Assessment Criteria: Project – 60%, Assignment – 40%

Portrait Photography 6N3694

The art and techniques of professional portrait and wedding photography.  Learners will be able to:

  • Evaluate trends in portrait historical and contemporary photography, identifying current photography techniques and styles
  • Explain the factors to be taken into consideration when planning photographic portraiture sessions using silver based and digital techniques
  • Describe the spectrum of lighting situations and set ups
  • Interpret client’s brief understanding concepts and visual language including researching and managing client requirements
  • Select appropriate equipment for a range of photographic situations
  • Produce high quality innovative photographs optimising control of shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation and white balance
  • Generate a portfolio of professional photographs suitable for public display
  • Use a range of photography software and computer applications understanding their application and use in different contexts
  • Demonstrate creativity through research and the practice of photography
  • Demonstrate problem solving, observation and evaluation skills through the practice of portraiture
  • Work in a disciplined manner, managing and participating successfully as a member of a professional team
  • Appreciate the need for planning, research, time management and self evaluation techniques.

Assessment Criteria: Project – 70%, Learner Record – 30%

Communications 6N1950

Students studying Communications Level 6 will do the following:

  • Critique current issues in communications and information technology, to include digital and mobile technology, the internet, and the policies and principles relevant to a vocational area.
  • Evaluate in practical terms the elements of legislation that must be observed in a personal and or work context, to include health, safety and welfare at work and communications related legislation, and the responsibilities that apply when working in a supervisory capacity.
  • Assess the impact of non-verbal communication and of the physical environment in everyday human interaction.
  • Participate in formal and informal working groups, to include leading or facilitating, notetaking, summarising discussion, agreeing outcomes and action points.
  • Use drafting, editing and proofreading skills and the correct conventions of language usage including spelling, punctuation and syntax to produce formal written communications relevant to a particular vocational area, to include reports, correspondence, faxes, memos, minutes.
  • Demonstrate vocal and interactive skills in personal and professional contexts, including an oral presentation, discussion, debate, meeting, interview and or job seeking skills and for the purposes of persuading, informing or advocating.

Assessment Criteria: Collection of Work – 50%, Skills Demonstration – 50%

Work Experience 6N1964

Work experience Module is divided into 3 key study assignments including preparation for a work experience placement. This module is aimed at giving students a clearer insight into the challenges faced by professional visual artists, designers and craft workers in the workplace. Study in future career options and key challenges facing visual artists. Analysis and reflection on work experience.

Assessment Criteria: Collection of Work: 60%; Skills Demonstration: 40%


Westport College of Further Education reserves the right to limit the number of places available, make changes in any course or to withdraw the course. No part of this information shall be deemed to form a contract between Westport College of Further Education and the student, or a third party.