To quote the adage: "a picture is worth a thousand words". But which words?

Frederick R. Bernard probably never dreamt of digital photography and social media when he came up with his immortal line. In today’s world, the idea of photography as language is critical in considering how we share and consume information.

Photography is central in cultural representations of our mediated world. With photography accessible to anyone with a camera or smartphone, we become overwhelmed with reams of images and their messages. We can portray messages and events in carefully curated ways. Add in editing software and we can potentially distort reality.  Through social media, and how we use it, we miss out the critique of an image; what is it trying to tell us.

In this photography short course, you won’t be told what photography is. Instead you will be introduced to key approaches to thinking in photographs and making photographic work. Rather than being told what to think about photography you’ll gain the theoretical knowledge to think about and through photography. By understanding the theory you can combine this with your technical skills to take pictures of meaning.


Why regard photography as language?

What skills does this kind of theory-led practice offer to photographers, visual practitioners, and researchers of visual communication?

Led by Ariadne Xenou, you will learn about photography as language from a historical perspective and through contemporary development. Not only that, you’ll learn about the key concepts which highlight the cultural importance of photography as well as the cultural impositions upon it.

You’ll look at and consider the technical aspects of photography; how they extend to the way we see, perceive, and feel photographs. Most crucially we will explore how a photograph communicates and consider that within the photographic visual language.

Our photography short course is CPD accredited, so you can get rewards for developing as a photographer. You don’t need any prior qualifications or knowledge of photography; this course is open for everyone.

If you are a budding photographer, interested in photography as a communicative language and tool, this is the course for you.

Short Course Descriptor

Supported by RPS.

Hear from course tutor Ariadne Xenou as she explains what the course is all about, and how we can explore Photography as Language:

How can we view Photography as Language?

“As a whole the course made me think about my photography. I will certainly approach the capturing of images differently. More often I will ask “why am I taking this image?” Without doubt I will take fewer photographs but will have a reason to take them.”

Anon, on Photography as Language

Course Start Dates, Requirements and Fees

Over 8 weeks, you will undertake a variety of tasks which range from visual research, photographic practice and academic writing skills. Your course will include video lectures, case studies, shared reflections, reading material, one to one tutorials, online group sessions and independent working.
  • 2020/2021

    • Monday 1st March 2021, enrolment submission deadline is the Sunday 14th February 2021.
    • Monday 7th June 2021, enrolment submission deadline is Friday 21st May 2021.


    • Monday 6th September 2021, enrolment submission deadline is Wednesday 18th August 2021.
    • Monday 10th January 2022, enrolment submission deadline is Monday 13th December 2021.

    You will receive a welcome email to the course with your student and tutor information, and access OCA Learn student site two weeks before teaching begins.

    • 10 study hours available to dedicate per week
    • Access to desktop/laptop computer with internet access
    • Must be 18 years of age at the time of submitting the enrolment
    • Camera
    • IT literate and comfortable using web-based technologies
    • For students whose first language is not English, you must evidence English Language proficiency equivalent to B1 of Common European Framework of Reference.
  • The course fee is £295 and must be paid in full prior to beginning of the course.

The deadline has now passed for the January 2022. We will shortly be releasing further dates for Spring and Summer 2022.