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 10 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, individual feedback, online group sessions and independent working.
  • Summer 2024 Intake

    Start Date 17th June 2024
    Duration: 10 weeks
    Deadline to Apply: 15th May 2024
    Access to course: 3rd June 2024


    Intake Month

    Enrolment Deadline Access to Course Study Start Date
    October 12PM (BST) Wednesday 18 September 2024 Monday 07 October 2024 Monday 21 October 2024
    February 12PM (GMT) Wednesday 15 January 2025 Monday 03 February 2025 Monday 17 February 2025
    June 12PM (BST) Wednesday 14 May 2025 Monday 02 June 2025 Monday 16 June 2025
    Course Duration 10 weeks


    Students will have a two-week cancellation period from receiving access to their course for a full refund by submitting a cancellation form to [email protected]. No refund is payable after the 14-day cancellation period has lapsed.

    Students should plan to have submitted their enrolment form and organised their funding in time for the enrolment deadline.

    • 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 short course fee must be paid in full prior to beginning of the course. This fee applies to UK and international students.

    2023/2023 £335
    2024/2025 £350
  • The course will be delivered online through OCA Learn. The vast majority of content for the short course is accessible from anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the internet. The majority of the learning materials for the course are original and have been commissioned specially for it. Any videos that are subject to rights restriction for the UK, will not impact on your learning on the course.

The deadline for the Summer 2024 short course intake has now passed. Please review our Intake Dates information see the upcoming 24/25 short course intakes, and check back here soon for when the enrolment form reopens shortly.