Ridgewater College photography program moving fully online, weekly in-person labs will still be available

West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.
·3 min read

Apr. 7—WILLMAR — Beginning this fall, Ridgewater College's Professional Photography program will be available fully online.

According to a news release from the college, students have asked since before the pandemic to have the program offered online.

"We feel like this is the right move at the right time," Wade McDonald, one of the college's Professional Photography instructors, said in the release.

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"This expansion gives the student more flexibility by providing them more options," said Amy Pawelk, Photography's second instructor.

In the new arrangements, students can check out equipment they need and do their work at home, on their own schedules. 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 of applied science degree, the 64-credit diploma, and the newer 29-credit certificate. Fall and spring starts will be available.

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

Equipment loan program

Because students can't afford to own all the equipment they'll need, the college plans to expand the equipment loan program. "Our equipment checkout program is a huge asset to our students' education," McDonald said.

With the new plan, local students can check out and pick up more equipment while distant students can request to have it shipped. Equipment checkout can include lights, stands, backgrounds, and more.

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

Other changes in the program are the removal of prerequisites for courses and offering the photography certificate to complement other areas of study.

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

Photography and Design

The changes could benefit students in the Photography and Design program, too.

About a year ago, the faculty began the combined Photography and Design program with the goal of offering students a broader skill set to produce social media content, advertising and more.

The program allows students to compete in the employment market by having a skill set for companies hiring in the visual communications career field, McDonald said.

Amy Maher, multimedia design technology instructor, said developing a photography lab on the Hutchinson campus will be an asset for students and faculty.

Maher will continue to offer her own one-on-one lab time and students will also have access to the collaboration creativity lab called CreateSpace. It gives students from many programs a special place to work together.

For more information about the Professional Photography or Photography and Design programs, go to www.ridgewater.edu/artanddesign. To meet faculty 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 here to register for information sessions.