Higher Certificate in Commercial Photography



1 year - full time - NQF 5 


What is commercial photography? 

Commercial photography encompasses all the various categories of photography that are employed for commercial gain. These include photography for advertisements, publications, product placement, portraits, brochures, merchandising and more.

What you will learn:

This programme equips you with a solid foundation in photographic technique, concept and practice, covering a wide variety of genres throughout the year. Part of the programme is the creation of a specialised portfolio of work, which focuses on your genre of choice. In this course, you will learn to create work that speaks to your unique skills, passion and personality. In addition, you will acquire knowledge of the business aspects of photography, giving you greater insight into the industry.


The five subjects in the programme cover the technical theory of photography, the application of that theory, post-production techniques, analysis and interpretation of imagery, the business aspects of photography, and photographic design principles.

Technical Theory

Here you will learn what digital cameras are all about. The subject covers camera functions and controls, lighting, exposure, composition, colour, and black & white technical requirements. By shooting various genres of photography, you will become technically grounded in the discipline of digital photography.

Applied Photography

This subject covers technical theory and includes digital media to support image-making. The genres considered include advertising, documentary, portraiture, landscape, architecture, food, product, fine art, fashion, social photography and more. In the final semester, you will create a specialised portfolio within your chosen area of interest, honing the techniques in camera usage, image processing and post production you have acquired. Extensive use of the Photoshop and Lightroom software suites for post-production ensures you gain the requisite know-how in these programs.

Visual Literacy

In this subject, you will be introduced to the theoretical aspects necessary to evaluate commercial photographic practice. This entails the knowledge of basic design elements and aesthetic principals (visual literacy) as well as theoretical and historical context, which helps the student to read and understand these images.

Professional Photography

Here you will cover all the aspects of the business of photography (including image copyright). This is vitally important, given the entrepreneurial nature of commercial photography.

Graphic Design Intro

This subject introduces you to the design principles and practices for creating collateral for your photographic business. Software training in Illustrator and InDesign is included, helping you gain the skills you need to enter the industry.