Journalists work in a newsroom at “Agence France-Presse” (AFP) headquarters in Paris on November 9, 2022. (Photo by Thomas Samson / AFP)

Program presentation

Spéos Photo School and Agence France-Presse (AFP) have partnered to create a unique training program in Photojournalism. This intensive program in 1 year takes place in Paris, in English, from September to June of the following year. This program combines the excellence of the practical teaching at Spéos with AFP’s expertise, offering students the opportunity to specialize in news photojournalism.

This Photojournalism program by Agence France-Presse & Spéos is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in Photojournalism. AFP, heir to the Havas agency founded in 1835, is the world’s oldest news agency. It employs 2,400 people worldwide, including 1,700 journalists of 100 different nationalities in 151 countries. The agency produces more than 3,000 photos, 4,000 news and 300 videos every day, and its clients include media from all over the world.
The work of its 450 photographers is widely recognised and regularly wins the most prestigious international awards.

Learning photojournalism at Agence France-Presse and Spéos means learning to cover the news in all its forms in photographs, at one of the world’s 3 major news agencies – along with Associated Press (The AP), and Reuters News Pictures. It also provides an insight into the specifics of being a photographer in a major news agency, often working under pressure.

By tackling the different facets of the photographer’s job within an agency such as AFP, students will learn to develop the versatility that is essential in modern photojournalism.

The courses run from mid-September to the end of June, over two semesters. The training will take place 5 days a week, with 4 days spent at Spéos and 1 day working with the AFP teams at the AFP agency. The course is structured as follows:
– The part dedicated to the specificities of photojournalism and news within a press agency will take place at AFP.
– The technical and practical part, as well as social and corporate photography, will be taught at Spéos.
A mentor accompanies the students throughout the program.

If the candidate wishes, this course can be used to validate skills blocks 1, 2 and 4 of the RNCP level 6 title of Entrepreneur Photographer.

The course is designed for students with at least 2 years of higher education.
Students who aren’t native speakers of English need to have a language level validated by an English language test at B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The language requirement needs to be submitted at the beginning of the program.

Career opportunities
Sectors: photojournalist, press photographer, social photography (weddings, family events), photographer’s assistant, editor-retoucher.
Status: freelance photographer, freelancer, employed photographer, company photographer, artist-author.

> Read the press release on the Agence France-Presse website
> Download PDF version of the press release

Next session: September 2024-June 2025
Language of instruction: English
– France, European Union nationals: €27,900
– International students: €27,900
Diploma: Spéos School Certificate

Structure of the Photojournalism Program by Spéos & Agence France-Presse

The first part of the program comprises the core courses, which cover all aspects of professional photography, from September to December. The first few weeks are dedicated to the acquisition of the basic techniques, allowing the students to be able to produce photos of good quality. During the following weeks, the students continually improve their skills (shooting techniques, composition and style) up to the level of young professionals within the field of photography. 

The first semester with AFP will enable students to familiarise themselves with the workings of an international agency, its various departments, the links between the different news professions (text, photo, video), the fundamentals of press photography and the particularities of working in the field. It will also provide an insight into the specificities of working as a photographer for a major news agency, often working under pressure.

Outside of class, students independently organize their shooting sessions and post-production, under the continual guidance of their supervisors and the AFP. Top-level professionals hold the courses and monitor the students’ individual acquisition of skills. 

During the second semester of the course, students perfect their practical skills while broadening their knowledge. They examine more complex social issues and, with the help of their supervisors, transpose contemporary day-to-day concerns into photographic essays or stories for use by news agencies or magazines covering general news topics such as political and cultural events, natural disasters and demonstrations. They also produce sports reports covering major events, the emotions of athletes and fans, portraits of personalities in action and documentaries.

The courses are complemented by the AFP component, which will be divided between information sessions, master classes and workshops with leading agency photographers, as well as practical sessions within specific departments. Students will take part in editorial conferences or department meetings, working on short assignments designed to teach them the skills of a professional photographer. Strong emphasis will be placed on ethics, impartiality, the search for truth and faithful representation of reality.

End-of-the-year exhibition at Spéos
The last week of the second semester is dedicated to the setting up of a themed exhibition – an important event visited by established photographers, photo agencies and the press. The students also have the possibility to exhibit their work online in the web galleries of Spéos website.

From the end of May to the end of June, students will have the opportunity to put what they have learnt into practice through various assignments they may be given by the agency’s different departments.

Course description

Essentials of Photography
Semester I: 1h30/week
This course is dedicated to the acquisition of techniques essential to the practice of professional photography. Combining theory and practical exercises, it allows students:
– to learn and practice the Stop-System, the global learning method of light control in photography, a method developed by Spéos,
– to understand and know how to define its settings when taking pictures,
– to understand the techniques inherent in shooting and to anticipate post-production,
– to understand the operation of different types of cameras, including the large-format camera.
The elements covered will allow students to make relevant technical choices according to the desired result. Whatever the situation, in studio or on location, indoors or outdoors, this course will enable them to deal with the possible constraints encountered when taking pictures.

Semester I: 6 hours/week
The course is designed to give an overview of photo reportage, focusing on 3 main themes: corporate photography, social photography and photojournalism. It includes discussions on the work of past and present photoreporters and coverage of Paris events. This course aims at giving students a comprehensive training in photojournalism. It seeks to cover a broad horizon of topics that will allow the participants to consider a professional career by responding to work assignments, as well as developing topics with a more personal point of view.
The course structure is based on two important themes:
– The photographer as a witness (of an event: news photography; of their time: documentary photography),
– and the construction of a photographic project as a story composed by images.
The course will develop numerous topics, such as portraiture, street photography, the use of flashes, long-term projects. It will always revolve around the following notions: the photographer as a witness of an event, of their time, of the things that do or do not change, and how to tell a story in pictures.

Lighting for Photojournalists
Semester I: 3 hours every other week
This course is dedicated to the acquisition of the techniques essential to studio shoots, as well as to the treatment of digital images. Students are initiated to:
– the Stop-System,
– different types of lighting,
– the general principles of balanced light sources,
– as well as different types of cameras, from 35mm to the large format.

Mentoring Agence France-Presse
Semester I: 1 day per week at the AFP
The programme will be divided into :
information sessions: the agency and its various departments, services and components, the fundamentals of press photography, the particularities of and links between photo-text and video,
master classes and workshops with leading photographers from the agency,
practical sessions in specific departments.
During the first semester, students will be able to :
– work with photo editors to acquire the journalistic methods and techniques needed to anticipate international news,
– learn from seasoned photo reporters how to cover all areas of news, whether social, political, environmental, cultural or sporting,
– understand how to photograph the news in a hurry, how to put together a photo report and how to tackle a magazine story,
– train with desk editors in editing and captioning their work,
– learn how to transmit their photographs whatever the conditions in the field.
Students will also learn about key contemporary issues such as fact-checking, to avoid the pitfalls of false information.

Computer Imaging
Semester I: 1h30/week
This course aims to:
– understand what the main parameters and formats of digital images are,
– discover the Photoshop application and design a layout using this software,
– learn how to manage a stream of digital images and retouch photos using Lightroom software.

Image Management and Publication
Semester I: 3 hours/week
This course helps photographers to manage their image stock with guidance on how to caption a picture, to assign the right key-words, to fill in the IPTC data. All of these are essential for any photographer to locate their pictures and to have them published.

Printing Techniques
Semester I: 1h30/week
The course covers printing techniques with the programs Photoshop and Lightroom on Fuji Frontier or Durst Lambda printers as well as large-format ink-jet printers. Color management principles will be studied within the graphic chain of a typical digital lab (screen, printer, viewing booth). Students will gain the necessary knowledge to obtain high quality prints, true to their digital shots, whether by themselves or through a professional lab.

Meet the Profession
Semester I: 2 hours/week
The purpose of these meetings is to present a variety of professional careers within the photography industry, aiming at broadening the students horizons with regard to future career plans. Speakers include:
– former students of the school who present their activity,
– professionals in fields related to photography,
– representatives of major brands of photographic equipment, demonstrating new materials and presenting trends in the evolution of the profession.
These meetings bring together students from all programs and are held in English.

Semester II: 3 hours/week
This course aims to make students work on long-term thematic projects. The work continues with the coverage of events taking place in Paris during spring. After short photo-essays, the participants work on a personal theme for a long-term project. In a domain that is changing fast these days, students in photo reportage also need to continually keep up with the latest technologies.

Mentoring AFP
Semester II: 1 day per week at the AFP
During the second semester, students will take part in editorial conferences or department meetings, and work on short assignments, putting into practice the skills acquired in the previous semester. They will be coached to develop a personal project under the guidance of the agency’s photographers or photo editors.

Semester II: 3 hours/week
This course is an introduction to writing techniques and photo editing. It is given by a journalist / editor, helping students to edit their photo stories and back-up their reportages with a well-structured narrative.
Key concepts:
– Understand the different steps of a photo reportage from the idea of a topic to the final publication in a magazine.
– Learn how to tell a story with images: they show, inform or provide evidence.
– Write a synopsis or narrative to accompany the photo story.

Computer Imaging
Semester II: 1h30/week
Continuation of semester I towards a more advanced level.

Image Management and Publication
Semester II: 3 hours/week
In the second part of the program, the course covers the following topics:
– add value to a photo stock with a good knowledge of captioning and keyword management,
– find sources of information for photographers,
– know the photo market,
– develop an Internet strategy: create a website using a CMS (Content Management System), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), know how to use blogs and social networks for photographers.

Printing Techniques
Semester II: 1h30/week
Continuation of semester I towards a more advanced level.

Video for Photographers: the Essentials 
Semester II: 3 hours/week
This course aims to:
– provide students with the basics of audiovisual production in the field of promotional or experimental short films,
– teach them how to enhance their photographic work with the animated image,
– train them in software specific to this type of creation.
The exercises will focus on diverse topics so that students can experience their own approach to video making, regardless of the shooting mode used: documentary film, fiction film, family and animated film, experimental film, advertising and institutional.

Pedagogical approach

The teaching method is essentially centred on practice in real-life conditions, which is an essential element of the training.
The courses take place in small groups for a personalised and monitored approach, allowing the students to develop their style and personal approach (excellent student/teacher ratio).

The school has developed its own pedagogical method: the Stop-System, a global learning method for controlling light in photography.

The official program is delivered by Spéos and its teachers and completed by AFP photographers and the agency’s team. Part of the courses are taught in the AFP agency, located in the heart of Paris. This gives the students a privileged contact with AFP photographers and their experienced team.

Outside the classroom, students organize their own shoots, either in the studio or on location.

Spéos offers its students spacious facilities with top-of-the-range photographic equipment available outside of class hours.

The school has numerous spacious studios, all very well equipped: Phase One backpack cameras, Foba column stands, the best brands of flash, projectors, lights and a large choice of accessories to style each shot. The school’s computer rooms are equipped with Apple computers, Eizo calibrated displays and the Adobe Creative Cloud suite.

Students also have the opportunity to borrow photographic equipment on a daily basis: the school lends a number of flash kits, sound kits, video kits and telephoto lenses for working on location, including evenings and weekends.

  • Continuous assessment.
  • Tests at the beginning and end of the semester, to assess students’ acquisition of knowledge.
  • Half-yearly examinations in the form of graded exercises.
  • Completion of a professional portfolio and end-of-year exhibition.
  • Examination by a jury.

Enrollment and Contact

Registrations are open all year round and subject to availability.
Feel free to contact Spéos if you have any questions about this program.
At any time you are most welcome to come and visit the school, just make an appointment!