This year I've taken a big step towards turning a long time personal interest into a professional skill. In May I enrolled in the Professional Digital Photography program at Boston University's Center for Digital Imaging Arts, or BU CDIA for short. The curriculum spans 24 classes over nearly 18 months, and requires the commitment of 2 nights per week and every other Saturday.

First Class at CDIA
First class at CDIA
Over the years I've been able to study at various local universities to build web technology skills, including Bentley College, Brandeis University, Harvard Extension School, and BUTrain (Boston University's corporate education). Compared to CDIA, I would be hard pressed to describe a curriculum or facility that was more current and state of the art, or better staffed with highly qualified instructors. CDIA's facility, conveniently located on Moody Street in Waltham, can hardly be called a campus, although it occupies three floors of a huge building converted into classrooms and studios, and will soon expand into an adjacent building that formerly housed a Jordan's Furniture store. In retrospect, only Harvard's Extension School rivals CDIA in quality of equipment and facilities as well as teaching ability of instructors.

Computer Lab at CDIA
Computer Lab at CDIA
CDIA has several other curriculums available including Digital Filmmaking, 3D Animation, Graphic and Web Design, and Recording Arts. Most programs can be completed in 9 months full time, or 18 months part time. The classrooms are well equipped with PowerMacs running OS X having a full stable of Adobe products including Lightroom, Photoshop CS3, Dreamweaver CS3, Illustrator CS3, and more. In fact, the Digital Photography program emphasizes the use of Adobe Lightroom as the principle tool for image workflow and initial image adjustment, and Adobe Photoshop for post-processing pixel based editing. They have several large studios available for student use, large format printers such as the Epson 4000 and Epson 7500, and a very well stocked equipment room where students can check out dSLRs, studio lighting, or even medium and large format Hasselblads.

Street Shooting in Harvard Square
Street Photography in Harvard Square
To date I've completed the first 4 courses including Camera and Workflow I & II, Digital Darkroom (Photoshop I), and Photographic Seeing. I will soon begin Introduction to Lighting, followed by Introduction to Studio, and Photoshop II. One key aspect of the CDIA Photography program is that near the very end there are 6 business related courses that help students prepare for running small businesses and equip them for the real world. Those courses include Branding, Marketing, Printmaking, Selling, Production, and Stock Photography.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with CDIA at BU, and I look forward to completing the remainder of the program over the next year. You can follow along with me by checking out my photo sets on Flickr.