Born in San Francisco in 1902, the great American photographer, Ansel Adams, left a legacy at the San Francisco Art Institute. And local historians will know why Harvey Milk’s name is also connected to photography. From traditional darkrooms to Adobe Lightroom, and from manual to digital photography, there’s plenty of instruction and certification options for amateurs and future professionals to consider.
428 Third St.
San Francisco, CA
RayKo is widely known by professionals photographers for their custom digital labs and processing services. Extensive workshops for instruction range from one day to five weeks. Students (including youth summer camps) can begin with “Introduction to your Digital Camera and Photo Walk” or “Basic iPhoneography.” For a true sense of place, they conduct a two-day course, “Street Photography: San Francisco” to include some editing, organizing, and storytelling. If you’ve been there/done that, there’s also a week-long guided photographic expedition to Bolivia to hang out with the llamas and shoot La Paz’s Valley of the Moon.
612 Alabama St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Beginners rave about this introductory three-hour class on manual settings that can be combined with a two-hour photography walk (with tripod) taking shots near the Bay Bridge on a later date. Bring your own DSLR camera or borrow one while you’re deciding what to buy. In a crash course of 20-25, students are weaned off the automatic setting by understanding concepts like exposure, aperture, depth of field, ISO, and shutter speed. The beginner class is usually held on weekends or on a Wednesday evening. For advanced students, there’s also a two-hour Adobe Lightroom post-production session.
50 Scott St.
San Francisco, CA
People looking for photography classes are often surprised to learn that this facility on the lower level of Duboce Park’s Harvey Milk Center for the Arts is part of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department — and has been for more than 75 years. The nonprofit agency has photography lectures, exhibitions and a wide variety of digital and film classes for all skill levels, including ones for tweens and teens. Members can use the darkroom, film processing areas, and state-of-the-art digital lab and perhaps enjoy the opportunity to exhibit work in the galleries.
800 Chestnut St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
You cannot really say “photography” in this town without also saying “Ansel Adams.” In 1945, SFAI’s photography school was founded by this native son, the famous American photographer and environmentalist. Up on the Russian Hill campus, it’s considered the first fine art photography program in what is one of the nation’s oldest art schools. Adams designed the SFAI darkrooms and recruited the first instructors. Inspired by the legacy, the school offers an MFA in Photography for dedicated students. The Low Residency MFA in Studio Art is designed for students with a portfolio who wish to enroll part-time.
79 New Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
If you decide to dive in deep for a degree course in photography leading to career potential, these classroom or online programs are aimed at undergrads and graduate students. The school also offers a continuing education class in photography with concentration in three areas: documentary, fine art photography, and advertising/photo illustration. Visit the website for a course catalog, a student photo gallery, a review of the facilities, to meet the faculty, and to read a blog to provide more insights.