Digital Photography Certificate Program


All students who finish this program will receive a signed certificate of completion verifying their participation in the program.

This five-day Certificate Program will introduce students to the art, science and business of photography to help prepare them to be a professional photographer. We will cover many disciplines of photography, learning both universal concepts and specific techniques. From the creative power of exposure and composition to the nuance of identifying and modifying both natural and artificial lighting from understanding how to enhance photos in Lightroom to building an effective digital workflow and finally an introduction to the business concepts that will separate you from the rest.

Program Description

This five-day certificate program will prepare you with a wide range of essential and practical skills as you begin your path to being a professional photographer. Starting at the beginning you learn practical technical skills that will allow you to use and master a professional digital camera. You will learn hands-on to use professional lighting equipment. You will shoot photos in a studio and then edit those photos in Lightroom to produce high-quality finished images. You will learn the basics of running a photography business covering retail, commercial and fine-art business concepts. Many different disciplines will be covered, including portrait, wedding, editorial, product, advertising, landscape and more.

Read more about what makes our Certificate Programs unique.


  • You will have the ability to set proper exposure in both automatic and manual shooting modes.
  • You will understand how to light your subject in a variety of shooting situations.
  • You will understand how to edit your images in Lightroom and prepare them for printing or delivery.
  • You will learn the fundamentals of running a photography business.
  • You will begin building a portfolio of images in a variety of photographic disciplines.


Students should have some very basic experience shooting photographs, as well as basic, fundamental computer skills. You may contact us if you are unsure.


You should bring your own camera and its user manual. A prosumer or professional camera is required and if you do not own one the instructor can help you make arrangements to rent one to use during the course. If you own them, it is recommended you bring your flash, tripod, any lenses you own, and any other accessories you might have. The instructor is a Nikon & iPhone 14 ProMax photographer and while having some knowledge of other cameras does not know them well-enough to instruct students on where to find the settings we will discuss. So, please bring your camera's manual and read it thoroughly before attending the class.

Bring a laptop if you have one with the current version of Adobe Lightroom installed (trial versions are available on and the ability to move photos from your camera to your computer (SD card reader, etc.).

For field sessions, bring clothing appropriate for any kind of weather - it is Colorado after all! Field sessions and studio work often involves long periods of standing around, so be prepared to dress twice as warmly as you think you might have to.

After You Register

BDA is committed to making learning process as enjoyable as possible and making sure that you can focus on your learning. After you register you will be contacted by our staff who answer questions you might have and assist you with any logistical and travel concerns.


Day 1: The course will begin with natural light, composition and making sure that you understand the fundamentals of your camera and photography.

We will explore how to make an image and the creative options that understanding exposure affords you. Immediately following we will explore the functions of the camera and how to achieve creative exposure.We will also explore the different types of cameras how they function. We will also discuss the important concepts of sensor size and megapixels.

We will also begin our daily deep dive into Adobe Lightroom.

Day 2: Adobe Lightroom training in the morning will be teaching you management and organization to help you easily find all the amazing photographs you will be taking. In the afternoon we'll head into an overview of lighting fundamentals. Whether you shoot with natural light, speedlights or strobes - all light has some common principles that a photographer must master. In this section we will examine the qualities of light such as size, direction, color and more and see them in action in the studio.

The lighting training will begin with adding reflectors and on-camera flash. Time will be spent experimenting with light and learning to use it as a tool to better tell our photographic story.

Day 3: More Lightroom tricks and tips in the morning, then we start learning off-camera flash techniques and the equipment needed to bring your photography to a professional level. There will be constant lights for the iPhone photographers. We'll do some macro photography, isolating a flower in a soft box, as well as practice multiple lighting scenarios including fun tricks like fog, colored gels and masks.

We will explore the different types of lighting setups that can be created using natural light, portable flash, studio strobes, a variety of modifiers and reflectors. This very hands-on section will include work with live models applying the information you have learned and generating your own portraits.

Day 4: A model studio photography shoot where everyone gets to photograph a real-life model. This will introduce the important craft of communicating with your client (or your Mom for that matter) and introduce posing techniques to help them look their best and relax in front of the camera.

You'll learn how to light a studio portrait using speedlights/strobes as well as reflectors and other modifiers. We will expand upon the use of light modifiers and their role in getting very specific lighting results.

After the shoot we will review photos and work on them in Lightroom.

Day 5: Time to step outside and get everyone's photographic eye working. Professional mobile lighting equipment will be available for your use. You will be sent on a treasure hunt collecting images that demonstrate the skills you have learned throughout the week. You will then return to the studio to edit and present your final portfolio to the class.

Using this final assignment, we will help you understand where to begin with a photography career, what choices you have to make, and what pitfalls to watch out for. We will help you understand the fundamentals of the photography business, how to understand your true costs, how to price your work, how to select and evaluate products, how to find clients and market your business.

To achieve your certification you will need to complete your final portfolio, and pass a test on photographic fundamentals.

There will be photographic equipment given away as prizes!

Your Instructor: Gretchen Troop

Gretchen is the owner of Gretchen Troop Photography, a wedding/portraiture/landscape/music photography business based in Boulder. In addition she runs a successful digital graphic design business, GT Digital Studio, specializing in Photoshop design, video production, animation, UI/UX, HTML and WordPress. Gretchen has been a successful landscape photographer since the introduction of digital cameras (although she studied film in college as well). Gretchen Troop Photography combines her passion for the landscape with her skills in photographing people, founded on her Bachelors of Science degree in Photography from Syracuse University. Gretchen is also a passionate teacher who brings both her deep knowledge and a fun interactive approach which helps her students retain what they learn.


This Certificate Program will be held at the Alive Studios in North Boulder.

BDA Members


BDA Members: $1,249.00

Non-Members: $1,299.00

Available Dates

Sorry, we don't have this event scheduled right now but we'll probably be adding it again soon! If you're interested in this event, we recommend using our follow feature to be notified the next time we add it to our schedule. You can also email us to request that we add it soon.

Customer Comments

I just completed BDA's Digital Photography Certificate program and enjoyed my experience immensely. Over five days, I studied lighting, composition, editing, and business. I know we only scratched the surface but I feel like I got exactly what I signed up for. I hope BDA will offer an advanced course so I can further develop my new skills. Thank you!Rebecca
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Comments For: Digital Photography Certificate Program

Had a great time taking this course. I learned a lot of useful information. The studio practice, Llghtroom walkthrough, and field projects really helped reinforce the teaching in the classroom. Thanks BDA!Matthew on 3/22/2017
I just completed BDA's Digital Photography Certificate program and enjoyed my experience immensely. Over five days, I studied lighting, composition, editing, and business. I know we only scratched the surface but I feel like I got exactly what I signed up for. I hope BDA will offer an advanced course so I can further develop my new skills. Thank you!Rebecca on 10/24/2016

Optional Payment Plan for Certificate Programs:

We want to make our training as accessible as possible so we offer a simple payment plan for our Certificate Programs. For classes that are $400 - $998, each of the two payments is simply 50% of the total cost of the Certificate Program or "bundle" with no finance charges or other costs. For classes that are $999+, each of the four payments is simply 25% of the total cost of the Certificate Program or "bundle" with no finance charges or other costs. BDA membership is required to obtain a payment plan. Click here to learn about membership. The first payment will be taken at the time of registration and the remaining payments are paid once a month for the following three months. Details the payment amounts for this particular program are listed in the table below.

It's easy to take advantage of this option and we encourage you to sign up early since these programs often fill up fast! If you're interested, don't register online. Instead, please contact BDA staff at 720-282-1435 or email us with the name and start date of the class you wish to attend ( and we'll get you setup, take your first payment, and confirm your registration.


Payment Program Details

  Payment Amount
Payment 1
Paid at time of registration.
Payment 2
Due one month after registration.
Payment 3
Due two months after registration.
Payment 4
Due three months after registration.
Note: you must be a BDA member to take advantage of our payment plans. Registrants using the payment plan are not eligible for any early registration discounts and always pay the standard registration fee ($1,249.00).


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