The Photography course begins with the Bachelor of Visual Arts First Year.
Click here for more information about the First Year.


graduate photography by the class of 2022, all work © to the creators

Our Bachelor of Visual Arts in Photography degree program is designed for individuals looking to establish a career in photography or media production. With a focus on professional artistic development, the course encompasses both the theoretical and practical elements of photography. The majority of the program is dedicated to hands-on practical projects, utilising our state-of-the-art studio and on-site locations.

After completing the generic Visual Arts first year this full-time, three-year program culminates in a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Photography degree. If a student has sufficient grades they can opt to continue their education, a fourth year will lead to the Bachelor of Visual Arts Honours degree. Additionally, our program is accredited to offer a Master of Visual Arts in Photography degree.

Photography student, Karabo Ngcozela, by © Warren Findlay 

Our photography course provides students with both the technical proficiency and creative mastery necessary to navigate the diverse medium of photography. Our students learn to harness the power of photography as a means of self-expression and a professional career path. Our curriculum prepares students to succeed in the rapidly evolving and competitive photography industry. The goal is to cultivate students who possess a unique vision and the ability to produce thought-provoking bodies of work. Realizing that many students will need to support themselves through commercial work, the course includes numerous workshops and guest lectures from photographers in the editorial and commercial spheres, as well as from documentary and fine art photographers.

Cape Recife Beach by Engle-Marie Louw ©2018

The second year of the program balances the acquisition of technical knowledge with the development of creative skills. Through various assignments, students learn to "see photographically" and tap into their own unique artistic vision. In the third year, students are encouraged to pursue their individual interests and critically engage with their chosen subject matter, with a strong emphasis on concept-driven work. The program also includes a comprehensive photography theory course, which explores both the history of the medium from its early origins to the present day, as well as the technical aspects of photography, including camera controls, lighting techniques, and post-production tools like Photoshop and Lightroom. This course pays special attention to the history of photography in South Africa, with a focus on the rich tradition of photography in the Eastern Cape. Our portfolio-based approach prioritizes creativity and prepares students to become successful practicing photographers and media producers.

Landscape photography at Cape Recife Lighthouse

At our university, aspiring photographers are required to have their own digital SLR camera to participate in the course. However, the department offers a wide range of equipment, lenses, and lighting gear for both studio and on-location photography. Our department is equipped with the latest technology and facilities to support students' learning, including two digital labs with iMac computers loaded with the full Adobe Creative Suite, two photography studios (one being the largest in the city), and a comprehensive selection of lighting equipment. 

Car photography in our photography studio ©Glenn Meyer

The main photography studio, measuring 18 meters by 9 meters with full infinity curved walls, is the largest of its kind in the Eastern Cape. It is frequently utilized by both local and visiting professional photographers for photography productions, giving students valuable insight into the demands of the professional photography industry. 

Our graduates have earned a reputation for their exceptional creativity, both in local and international professional circles. For highly motivated and creative individuals, a range of career paths await, including advertising, fashion, publishing, journalism, feature film and video production, digital imaging technologies, public relations, editorial, medical, scientific, commercial, architectural, industrial photography, photography printing lab management, and equipment retailing. For the most imaginative photographers, there is also the option of pursuing a fine art photography career through gallery exhibitions and book projects.

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Photography Graduate, Joubert Loots, Social Documentary Photographer. 

Video by photography student Darren van Tonder ©



Nelson Mandela University Photography Graduate Alumni Links:

Advertising and Commercial Photographers

David Prior

Harry de Zitter

Ross Charnock

Willem-Dirk du Toit

Paul Cocks

Sasha Hatherly

Sonja Wrethman

Tando Guzana

Graham Kietzmann

Graeme Borchers

Astin Sampson

Reino Erasmus

Jan Ras

Julian Goldswain

Matt Stow

Graeme Borchers

Kaitlyn de Villiers

Ryan Moss

Karla Newton

Estiaan Labuschagne

Crystal McLeod


Fashion Photographers

Natalie Field

Talitha Snow


James Brodribb

Kristin-Lee Moolman


Architectural Photographers

Wianelle Briers


Fine Art Photographers


Natalie Field

Marlene Neumann

Monalisa Colditz


Film Makers

Mark van Wijk

Vicci Turpin


Documentary Photographers

Joubert Loots

Marc Should

Gerhard Coetzee


Celebrity Photographers

David Dettman


Professional Photographic Retouchers

Lauren Bubb

Farran Sole


360 Degree Photographers

Mark Palmos


Automotive Photographers

Hendrik Boshoff


Portrait and Wedding Photographers

Joane Dunn

Astrid Cordier

Sandy Coffey

Tarryn Rahl

Nicole Jordan

Christine van Onselen

Kathleen van der Merve

Leze Hurter

Anke Staphorst


Photography student Karla Newton photographing our fashion student fashion ranges

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Contact information
Ms Buyelwa Gxido
Acting Secretary
Tel: 0415043247