Photography 2: Digital Image & Culture

Course Level: 2 (HE5) | HE Credits: 60 | Approx. Duration: 15 months at 10hrs/week


In recent decades digital imaging technologies have had a profound impact upon myriad aspects of our daily lives, and also on contemporary art and its institutions. In this course, you will be introduced to the work of practitioners who exploit the possibilities and potential of digital photography and imaging technologies, and you will explore the diverse and complex themes that their work addresses. Alongside tracing the genesis and trajectory of digital photographic art, you will examine the various ways that vernacular digital imagery is consumed and disseminated, and consider the wider social, ethical and philosophical implications of these rapidly evolving platforms and processes.

You will be encouraged to take exploratory and experimental approaches to making practical work, using both your own photographs as well as working with found imagery. This unit fosters a conceptual approach to practice, and you will expand your awareness of contexts and frameworks in which to develop your personal practice and your creative vision. You will be encouraged to develop further your visual communication skills, working towards a reflexive practice that involves the realisation of your own ideas into compelling visual products. You will engage in current critical debate and consider relevant social and cultural perspectives in relation to digital imagery, its production and its consumption.

Throughout the course you will be invited to show increasing autonomy in your learning and are expected to interact with the wider community of students at the OCA.


This unit aims to:

  • A1 provide the support for you to learn and develop creative visual and conceptual strategies in contemporary digital photographic art practice
  • A2 inform you of the wider contexts (social, philosophical, cultural, political, ethical and economic) that relate to historical and contemporary photographic art
  • A3 equip you with the necessary skills to produce visual material, synthesise ideas and effectively realise and resolve previously conceptualised ideas
  • A4 build upon your critical, analytical, evaluative and reflective skills
  • A5 help you explore your personal voice as an independent practitioner and develop your visual, oral and written communication skills.


On successful completion of the unit you will:

  • LO1 have detailed knowledge of visual and conceptual strategies in digital photographic practice and be able to explore your own critical digital photographic projects (A1, A3)
  • LO2 be able to demonstrate an awareness of the wider social and cultural contexts in which the digital image operates and be able to discuss relevant ethical perspectives in relation to your own practice (A2, A4, A5)
  • LO3 be able to explore and realise a range of ideas and creative starting points, and exercise judgement in the production of visual material (A1, A3)
  • LO4 be able to manage learning resources, conduct self-directed contextual and visual research, and be able to appraise your progress with increasing confidence (A4)
  • LO5 be able to demonstrate increasing autonomy and a developing personal voice, and exercise your communication skills confidently and interact effectively within a learning group (A5).

Course content

  • History, ethics and philosophies of the manipulated image.
  • The photograph and its relationship with reality.
  • Photographic archives – their authors and their editors.
  • Found photography as fine art.
  • New sites of discourse and digital platforms of dissemination.
  • The digital image and social media.
  • The digital image and the family album.
  • Shifting roles – the photojournalist vs. the citizen journalist.
  • Reflexive practice and intentionality – the digital photographic artist as author.