• Commercial Photography

    Since 1986, LaGuardia has provided students a strong foundation in photographic technique and the confidence to link these skills to a personal artistic vision.

  • LaGuardia is the only two-year institution in the City University of New York (CUNY) to offer an Associate in Applied Sciences (AAS) degree in Photography. The Commercial Photography program, administered by the Humanities Department, gives you access to such professional photographic equipment and facilities as our state of the art black & white and color darkroom, shooting studios and digital imaging facility. With 13 courses dedicated to photography, taught by faculty members who are currently working in the field and are exhibiting artists, you will gain experience from all over the photographic and arts spectrum in this quickly changing industry.

  • Alaska TripPhotography Slider
  •  About

    The AAS degree program is designed to train and qualify graduates for entry-level positions in the commercial photography industry. Students learn advanced concepts and techniques of commercial photography, including medium format 4x5 camera, electronic flash, and tungsten illumination.

    Additionally, a Fine Arts Photography Option, is offered in conjunction with the Fine Arts degree program. This option is not only a counterpoint to the specifically commercial nature of the Commercial Photography degree, but is a response to overwhelming interest in photography as an art form shown by inquiring students in both majors. The Fine Art Photography Option focuses on traditional techniques, their integration with digital technology, and the development of the conceptual building blocks required to make a fine art statement.

    The New York metropolitan area is the very center of commercial photography. LaGuardia Community College takes advantage of its location by placing AAS degree students into internships, a required portion of the program. This provides excellent “hands-on” experience within the actual field itself to complement students’ on-campus studies.

    Students will also receive essential information on business practices, self-promotion, portfolio development and how to secure employment as either a photographer’s assistant or staff photographer. Additional courses focus on content, such as color theory, computer art (graphics, necessary as an introduction to digital imagery), two-dimensional design, and photojournalism. This AAS degree is also an excellent vehicle through which to transfer to a variety of four-year colleges with professional programs in photography. 

     Program Director's Message

    The AAS Commercial Photography Program at LaGuardia Community College was created over 20 years ago. Drawing on the influence of Manhattan’s Photography District, one of the largest photography industry collectives in the world, it made sense to create a gateway to this thriving marketplace for community college students. Currently the Manhattan Photography District is still a viable entity but it has changed remarkably as has the entire industry. The need for editors, digital printing technicians and digital assistants has risen. A niche market also exists in advertising, museum and fine art galleries, and in editorial assignments for practitioners of traditional skills, an area of great attraction for those students interested in the analog methods still employed in the industry.


    Historically our students have been employed in a diverse range of jobs in the industry. We have former students working as photojournalists, fashion/editorial photographers, wedding/portrait photographers, photo retouchers, studio assistants, digital assistants, digital printers, photo editors, industry related retail salespersons, and managers at imaging industry businesses. Many former students have also successfully moved on to become studio owners. Marcus Nilsson, graduate of LaGuardia’s Photography program, is considered one of the finest still life/food photographers based in Manhattan. Many students have successfully completed BFA degrees at top rated senior colleges and have then gone onto graduate school. Hrvoje Slovenc graduated from Yale University’s MFA photography program in Spring 2010 and has returned to our program as an adjunct professor.


    Today the program strives to prepare students for a position in this diverse and quickly changing industry. With an emphasis in photographic technique and the ability to link these skills to a personal artistic vision, our program successfully enables students to follow their own path into the extraordinary world of modern photography.


    The future is bright for our program given its past successes and our recent occupation of an expansive, state of the art darkroom, studio and digital imaging facility. The need for visual imagery has changed over the past two decades but the sheer volume of photography used today in new media and in the ever-increasing world of visual communication continues to make LaGuardia’s Commercial Photography Program a most attractive educational choice for the modern photography student. 


    Scott Sternbach

    Photography Program Director
     Advising Team

    In support of the LaGuardia’s mission to educate and graduate its students to become critical thinkers and socially responsible citizens, the College has undertaken a team approach toward advising, designed to support you in your major from orientation through graduation.


    Your advising team, made up of faculty and professional advisors, will guide you at every step during your college career. They are ready to help you:


    • Explore your major

    • Select introductory and advanced courses

    • Connect you with campus support services

    • Prepare an educational and career plan


    Visit the Advising page to learn more about when to get advised and how to prepare for an advising appointment, and check out the Advising Calendar for information sessions, events and more.


    Please feel free to reach out to these advisors if you have any questions or need assistance, and visit laguardia.edu/visit for directions to campus.

    Photography students, at all levels, are strongly encouraged to be advised by Program Faculty before registering for classes each semester.

    Advising Team Faculty Members Email Phone Office Location
    Lidiya Kan, Higher Education Assistant lkan@lagcc.cuny.edu  718-349-4028  B 336 
    Thierry Gourjon tgourjon@lagcc.cuny.edu 718-730-7543 C 734
    Scott Sternbach, Photography Program Director ssternbach@lagcc.cuny.edu  718-482-5691 C 745J
    Jarrod San Angeljsanangel2lagcc.cuny.edu 718-730-7575  
    Rosanna Pichardo rpichardo@lagcc.cuny.edu 718-730-5169  

     Curriculum and Recommended Course Sequence

    Current Students

    Log in to the CUNY Portal to review your Degree Audit to find out what classes to take.

    Have questions about using Degree Audit? Visit LaGuardia’s Degree Audit page for tutorials and how-to guides.


    Prospective Students

    Review the Commercial Photography Curriculum and the recommended course sequence below.

    Recommended Sequence

    Photography courses build on one another, and it is recommended that students take courses at each level outlined below before moving on to the next one.

    Students are encouraged to speak with a Commercial Photography faculty member for assistance in course selection. 

    Entry Level / Beginner Courses

    Course Number Course  Typically offered 
    HUA130  Beginning Photography  Fall I
    Fall II
    Spring I
    Spring II 
    HUA202 History of Photography  Fall I
    Fall II
    Spring I
    Spring II

    Intermediate Courses

    Course Number Course  Typically offered 
    HUA230  Intermediate Photography  Fall I
    Fall II
    Spring I
    Spring II 
    HUN191 Photojournalism: an Introduction Fall I
    Spring I
    Spring II

    Advance Level I Courses

    Course Number Course  Typically offered 
    HUA131 Digital Photography I Fall I
    Spring I 
    Spring II 
    HUA145 Studio Lighting Fall I
    Fall II
    Spring I  
    HUA234 Color Photography  Fall I
    Spring I 
    HUA155  View Camera, Large Format Photography  Fall I
    Spring I 
    HUA238 Alternative Photography: The Manipulated Image  Fall I
    Spring I 

    Advanced Level II Courses

    Course Number Course  Typically offered 
    HUA 245 Studio Lighting II Fall I  
    Spring I
    HUA231 Digital Photography II Fall I
    Spring I 
    HUA280 Commercial Photography Seminar  Fall I
    Spring I 

    Final Photography Course

    Course Number Course  Typically offered 
    HUA275 Commercial Photography Workshop Fall I  
    Spring I
    Independent Study

    For information about this program’s retention and graduation rate visit the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment website page.

     Career Profile and Transfer Opportunities

    Graduates of the Commercial Photography program have many career options. Our students have assisted professional photographers, started their own wedding, fashion, portrait, or product photography studios or entered photojournalistic careers.


    Alumni have become photo-editors of magazines and online publications, worked in non-for-profit organizations, and have pursued careers in fine art.

    Alumni have also continued their educations at 4-year colleges such as SVA, The Pratt Institute, Parsons, Rochester Instituteof Technology, Fashion Institute of Technology, Purchase College SUNY, NYU, Brooklyn College, The City College, Lehman College, Hunter College, Queens College, CUNY Baccalaureate Program, Gallaudet University and graduate programs such as Yale, Lehman College, NYU, and Brooklyn College.

    LaGuardia’s Commercial Photography program is articulated with the School of Visual Arts (SVA); graduates of LaGuardia’s program can easily transfer to SVA’s bachelor degree program.

    Explore career possibilities on Career Connect.



    Current Exhibitions

    Alaska-Commercial Photography

    68° North: A Visual Journey Through the Alaskan Wilderness


    Photographers: Lauren Auerbach, Pilar Finch, Maria Hernandez, Paul Howard, Allison Minto,George Mohr, Gabriel Ponte-Fleary, Enrique Rosas, Gianni Sanchez, MachiVersano, Matthew Vicari and Annie Wu


    Curators: Lidiya Kan, Javier Larenas and Scott Sternbach


    A select group of Commercial Photography students spent July 2016 on a study away experience in the state of Alaska. The group was led by LaGuardia faculty members, Scott Sternbach and Lidiya Kan.


    While in Alaska, LaGuardia students studied and explored the environment as well as the effects of climate change on the community. By meeting with local indigenous people, they were able to experience their culture and understand the people’s relationship to their natural surroundings. The entirety of this unique trip was documented by each student through photography and video.


    68° North was made possible with generous support from Chris and Zoe Craymer.




    Bangladesh-Commercial Photography

    “Bangladesh: The Other Side of Me”

    Photographer: Zakaria Ahmed

    Curator: Javier Larenas


    “This photographic series is my portrayal of Bangladesh, a country that is defined by its lands, rivers, poverty and class. The country sits atop the world’s largest river delta, close to sea level, at the juncture of several active tectonic plates, which cause frequent earthquakes, with a secondary risk of tsunamis and severe flooding in a quake’s aftermath, which inherently has subtropical monsoon weather patterns that causes wide seasonal variations in rainfall, due to high humidity and temperatures. In addition, because of the country’s booming population and mass migration, this has contributed to both poverty and a water crisis.


    Since I came to United States in 2004, I have strongly felt that this is a story that needs to be told. Finally, after 11 years, I had the opportunity to go back and document people’s lives. While photographing this project, it took on an unexpected level of significance to me, coming to the realization of just how many have lost their homes and all of their belongings due to floods. As I was along side of them, it drew me closer to them, by both actually facing and listening to their life’s struggles for survival. It grounded me to my roots,my days as a child, moments of self-reflection, and it inspired me even more to visually capture “The Other Side of Me”.


    These photographs closely portray a community on the fringes—environmentally, geographically and economically—yet whose 'fringed' presence became more evident, when their vulnerability became more than notional—whose children will one day inherit this world.”

     -Zakaria Ahmed -




                Voices of NY

                Weekly Bangalee


    Panama-Commercial Photography

    “Panama: Hidden Gems”

    Photographer: Charles Carl Barnett

    Curator: Javier Larenas


    “As a history major at Queens College, l was fascinated with the way seemingly random events inter-acted with each other. I was particularly interested in the colonial period and how the history of the Americas evolved so differently under the English, French, Dutch and Spanish models, and how the other two players, Scotland and Sweden, through poor choices and neglect, never really made it out of the gate.  

    These images were captured on Kodachrome*film, during a cruise to Panama in 1984 aboard a small ship, that transited the canal and also visited a number of places on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. After the cruise ended, I drove a rental car up into the Chiriqui highlands near Costa Rica, accompanied by my stepfather, who also appears in several of these photographs. Although he has been gone for 28 years now, he gets to live again through these images.Assembling this exhibit has allowed me to relive the experience, as well. 

    In doing the research for the narrative, I was again made aware of just how much had changed since I was there, and how much I had missed, or didn’t even know about. I really have to go back and re-shoot.”

     -Charles Carl Barnett -



    Cuba- Commercial Photography

    “Bienvenido A Cuba”
    May 2015

    Photographer: Hugo Fernandez, Lidiya Kan, Machi Versano, and Manolo Salas

    Curator: Lidiya Kan


    “The work represents each photographer's personal experiences with their travel toCuba over the last five years and also features some text I have been juxtaposing to photographs of my family's photographic archive from Cuba and the United States.”

     -Hugo Fernandez -

    Past Exhibitions

    Walker Evans-Commercial Photography

    Walker Evans: Subway Portraits 1938-1941”
    May 2015

    Photographer: Walker Evans

    Curator: John T. Hill Former Executor of Walker Evans Estate, Former Director of theGraduate Photography Program at the Yale School of Art


    “This is a body of work made by Evans using a Leica 35mm camera, hidden under his shirt, with a cable for the shutter release running down his sleeve. 

    The pictures were shot without the subjects 'knowledge and provides an interesting cross section of the working class NewYorkers of the time. Though not the classic images of 1930's tenant farmers, for which Evans is known best, it still marks a significant body of work, and one he went back to, time and again, to rework and present in the later years of his life.”

     - Hugo Fernandez -


      LAGCC Guilt Free Pleasure

    “Guilt-Free Pleasures”

    April 2016

    Photographer:Maria Hernandez

    Curator:Javier Larenas


    “For the longest time, I’ve been interested in fetishes and why people like what they like. BDSM is a project that I have documented for the past two years.What is BDSM you might be asking? It's a wide range of sexual activities that include Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism. There is something very fascinating about this lifestyle because it’s all about consent/trust and new experiences. One would think that the person doing the whipping has all the control, but in this case, it’s reverse psychology, and that’s what makes this lifestyle so captivating.  

    This can be misinterpreted as abuse and porn, and/or although there is sex involved,however it's so much more than just sex. Porn portrays women as submissive and weak; enforcing the idea that women enjoy being dominated and objectifies themas sexual beings. Vise versa when it comes to males; society views them as dominant therefore enforcing the idea that they are always dominant no matter what. My job as a photographer isn’t to degrade or portray these protagonists as weak or strong but to simply to show that these roles are not fixed and can be reversed between the sexes. Both men and women can enjoy being submissive and dominated by the other sex.  

    Consent is the number one rule when it comes to BDSM. There will always be an agreement when it comes to play sessions. If a partner doesn't want to do something the other person has to respect it. No means no. Therefore, anyone who's getting“abused” or “tortured” has agreed to want to feel that type of pleasure. Rules are important and it’s important to know what you are doing. That's when safe words come in play when doing any kind of intense play. It’s all in the matter of personal preference and at times, there will be play sessions that don’t involve sex.”

     -Maria Hernandez -


    LAGCC Not A

    “Not A... ”

    November 2015

    Photographer: Ricardo Aca

    Curator:Javier Larenas


    “Photography gives me a voice. As with many undocumented immigrants, I feel that my experience is not well represented in national political conversations. 

    We are not a community with electoral power –yet. But though I may not be able to vote, I can take photos to help share my story and the stories of people like me. 

    Presented in this exhibition are two portrait series. First, of Mexicans outside before the Gold Cup Final 2015, holding signs in response to Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants. Second,of immigrant and first-generation immigrant students from different background sat Harvard University, determined to define themselves. 

    Words are powerful. They can incite fear, or they can inspire hope. They can denigrate, or they can empower. 

    Both of these series use words to give voice to the subjects, as a direct response or positive assertion. With this format,I hope to capture resistance to stereotypes about immigrant communities, and to reclaim the conversation over who we are.”

     -Ricardo Aca -





    Falchi in L.I.C

    “Falchi in L.I.C | L.I.C. in Falchi”

    Long Island City: Past. Present. Future. OurNeighborhood on Display.

    April 2015

    Photographers:LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Javier Larenas, and Lidiya Kan


    “A photography exhibit of more than 40 images of the once industrial, and now rapidly, changing western Queens neighborhood taken by LaGuardia students which will debut in the Falchi Building lobby. This wide ranging photographic survey of Long Island City includes a variety of topics in almost as many styles and techniques, including collages, panoramas, abstract, street-documentary, alternative processes, and time-lapse images.” 

     -Scott Sternbach -


    Faces of Islam

    “Faces of Islam”

    February 2015 – Showcased at the Queens Museum, NYC City Hall,  and LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts

    LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Javier Larenas, and Lidiya Kan


    “A photographic exhibition, as a part of “Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity” project on display at Queens Museum of Arts and LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts. “Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity” is a year long series of dance, live theater, art exhibitions and public forums created to expand awareness and understanding of Muslim culture in post 9/11New York City by LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (LPAC). “The Faces of Islam exhibition presents a representative group of diverse community college students. These teachers, artists, airline pilots, community activists, attorneys and myriad others joined with our students and alums to share the bond of creative photography. In the process they met as human beings working together for a common cause; to be seen as individuals and not as stereotypes.”

     -Scott Sternbach -



                 Times Ledger 
                 Queens Courier 


                 Queens Museum


    “The LaGuardia Family”

    September 2014

    Photographers:LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Javier Larenas, and Lidiya Kan


    “An exhibition of 72 photographs by LaGuardia Community College CommercialPhotography students and alumni in a wide variety of styles and formats.Students approached fellow students, faculty and staff members and asked permission to photograph them and their extended families. Some did photographic studies of their families.”

     -Scott Sternbach -


    Fading Images LAGCC

    “FadingImages: 1964-1965 New York’s World Fair ”

    August 2014

    Photographer:Charles Carl Barnett

    Curator:Javier Larenas


    Charles Carl Barnett, a seventy-three-year-old Queens photographer debuts 1964 World’s Fair never-seen-before photographs in LaGuardia Community College exhibition.


    “This is my life story. I loved this Fair. Anybody who lived through this knows this was a magical time that brought the world to Queens - literally. A lot of people knocked it as overly commercial, but to us it was exciting. We didn’t want it to end.”

     -Charles Carl Barnett -


                 Western Queens Gazette  

                 Queens Ledger 

    Alumni LAGCC


    May 2014 - Showcased at the Morris Museum and LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts

    Photographers: Photography Alumni from LaGuardia Community College and County College of Morris

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Hrvoje Slovenc and Javier Larenas


    “An alumni show that included works of LaGuardia Community College and County College ofMorris photography alumni.”

     -Scott Sternbach -


    LAGCC Between Heaven and Earth

    “Between Heaven and Earth”

    November 2013

    Photographer:Rodolfo Caballero

    Curators: Javier Larenas and Lidiya Kan


    An exhibition of photographs by a Mexican photographer, Rodolfo Caballero, taken in North Mexico, one of the most dangerous places, during his 3 year journey through Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila.   

    “Some of my photos have a marked tendency to represent the vulgar and the ugly; but with it they develop the elements of passion and strength with a peculiar point of view arisen from a special disposition for sentiments, and in this way they can provoke in the viewer an impression, that is certainly not edifying, but often it is very powerful and moving.” 

     -Rodolfo Caballero -


               Queens Ledger

    LAGCC Chile II

    “Expedition Chile II”

    May 2013 – Showcased at the Queens Museum and LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts

    Photographers: LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students – Study Abroad Participants

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Javier Larenas and Lidiya Kan


    “Photography Students ventures out once again to Chile and beyond, returning with their photograph.”

     -Scott Sternbach -


               Queens Gazette

    LAGCC Astoria

    “The Astoria Project: Interethnic Encounters”

    April 2013

    LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Javier Larenas and Lidiya Kan


    “A collaborative project with the Max PlanckInstitute, Göttingen, Germany for the Study of Religious and EthnicDiversity.  The Institute is dedicated to the comparative,multi-disciplinary study of diversity in historical and contemporary societies.Dr. Anna Cieslik of MPI and myself, used the Astoria Photo Project to assistMPI in understanding local diversities in New York and to illustrate how people make connections with each other in Astoria.”

     -Scott Sternbach -



               QueensWest Villager

    LAGCC Chile I

    “Expedition Chile”

    May 2012

    LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students – Study Abroad

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Javier Larenas and Lidiya Kan


    “LAGCC Study Abroad Students in 2012 (Fall II), had the choice of participating for four weeks in travel to Santiago and Valparaiso. The students captured moment of unique beauty during their journey to one of South America’s most fascinating countries. In the candid and formal portraits, landscapes and cityscapes of lyrically documented photographic and video graphic narratives, the students explore culture, cuisine, agriculture, ritual and social issues.”

     -Scott Sternbach -


                CUNYtv Study With The Best: Study With The Best 12/4 (First six minutes)



    “LIC Works”

    November 2011

    Photographers: LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Javier Larenas and Lidiya Kan


    “A photography exhibition of riveting portraits taken by LaGuardia Community CollegeCommercial Photography students celebrating the working men and women of small businesses in Long Island City.”

     -Scott Sternbach -


               CUNY Media

              Queens West Villager


    “The WPA Project”

    October 2010 – Showcased at the Greater Astoria Historical Society and LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts

    Photographers: Seven
    LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students

    Curator: Javier Larenas


    “In collaboration with Bob Singleton, Executive Director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, spearheaded and lead a select group of seven LaGuardia Community College Photography students to photograph Depression-era works of art that are scattered throughout the borough of Queens.”

     -Javier Larenas -



               NY Daily News

               Queens Gazette

               Queens Courier

    Faces of LaGuardia

    “Facesof LaGuardia”

    March 2010

    Photographers: LaGuardia Community College Commercial Photography students

    Curators: Scott Sternbach, Javier Larenas and Sarah Midkiff


    “A photography exhibition celebrating the global diversity of LaGuardia Community College students through their portraits created by LaGuardia photography students.”

     -Scott Sternbach -


               CUNY LaGuardia Community College Media

               CUNY LaGuardia Community College Media

               Queens Courier

               Voices of NY

     Commercial Photography Certificate

    The one-year Commercial Photography Certificate curriculum emphasizes basic and intermediate photography skills and is an excellent introduction to commercial laboratory techniques. It is particularly suited to individuals interested in seeking employment in a commercial photography lab. Students will learn to process color transparencies and color negative film, and print color photographs using professional automated equipment. In addition to color photography, the curriculum involves the student in intensive traditional black-and-white photography techniques including photo chemistry, lighting, mathematics, and basic techniques of the commercial photographer.


    English: 3 credits

    ENC/G101 Composition I  

    Humanities: 6 credits

    HUC106 Public Speaking - 3 credits
    Choose one of the following courses: - 
    3 credits
    HUA104 Introduction to Design
    HUA115 Color Theory
    HUA125 Introduction to Computer Art 

    Math, Engineering & Computer Science: 3 credits

    Liberal Arts Elective - 3 credits

    Natural Sciences: 3 credits

    SCC101 Topics in Chemistry - 3 credits

    Commercial Photography: 15 credits

    HUA130 Beginning Photography - 3 credits
    HUA230 Intermediate Photography - 3 credits
    HUA145 Studio Lighting I - 3 credits
    HUA234 Color Photography - 3 credits
    HUA235 Color Darkroom Techniques - 3 credits

    Unrestricted Electives: 3 credits 

    Click Here for additional information regarding Commercial Photography Certificate Costs and Outcomes (Gainful Employment)