© Spéos
© Spéos

Spéos is a private higher education course. For 36 years, Spéos has been one of the reference schools for professional photography in France.
> Discover the premises of Spéos Paris by watching this video

Spéos is also recognized internationally and ranked in the Top 5 best photo schools in the world for several years by different independent rankings:

Key figures

  • 1985: year of foundation
  • Campuses: ParisBiarritz
  • 4,000 professional photographers in more than 50 countries
  • 35 nationalities (including India, China, USA, Russia, Korea, Latin America, Middle East, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland …)
  • An average of 200 students each year
  • 18 studio sets in Spéos Paris
  • Black & White Printing: Spéos has one of the largest labs in Paris still in activity. Possibility of organizing introductions to analog photography with film development and black & white printing in the Spéos laboratory. Students will be introduced to the Stop System, a method developed by Spéos that allows to quickly take control of prints and masks. These optional sessions will take place on demand and at the end of the school year only, once students have acquired all the essential knowledge and techniques within professional photography.

Key Information

International school awarding accredited diplomas

Exclusive partnerships
Spéos is the only photo school to offer unique and exclusive specialized professional photography programs with prestigious partners:


Heritage and research

  • Spéos Photo School is also very concerned with ongoing research and in preserving a very significant French National Heritage site since 1999: The Nicéphore Niépce House Museum.
    This is the location where the very first photograph in the world was taken by the true inventor of photography, Nicéphore Niépce, some years before Daguerre and Fox Talbot. The Museum was awarded the prestigious label “Maison des Illustres” by the French Ministry of Culture in 2013, with sponsorship of the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Fine Arts.
  • Correspondence of Nicéphore Niépce, the inventor of photography, is compiled in a book of 1,600 pages written by a descendant of Niépce and a researcher of the CNRS. This book is fully available online (in French only).
  • Spéos continues to invest in research into Nicéphore Niépce’s inventions.


  • Spéos regularly hosts photo events within its facilities, notably for the past 4 years with Fotofest Paris, the world’s second biggest photo festival after Arles.
  • The school regularly participates in other events: International Festival of Photojournalism Visa pour l’image in Perpignan, International Photo Fair of Bièvres …

Where does the name Spéos come from?
The name Spéos comes from the Greek σπέος (speos), which means “den, cave” and refers to the allegory of the cave presented by Plato in Book VII of The Republic. It depicts men turning their backs to the entrance and seeing only their own shadows and those of external objects projected on the walls of the cave. This is a situation comparable to the pinhole and the camera obscura, both precursors of the camera, where an image of reality is projected inside the box. This allegory also illustrates the conditions of man’s access to knowledge, as well as the transmission of knowledge — both of which are the very missions of the school.
> Learn more about Spéos history

Video of the End-of-the-year Exhibition 2023

Everyday life at Spéos Paris, Photo & Video School

Spéos History

Since its foundation, Spéos has trained thousands of photography students and communication and image professionals. The school has developed its activities in the following domains: training, consulting/audit, Internet services, research/publications.

The name Spéos comes from the Greek σπέος (speos), which means “den, cave” and refers to the allegory of the cave presented by Plato in Book VII of The Republic. It depicts men turning their backs to the entrance and seeing only their own shadows and those of external objects projected on the walls of the cave. This is a situation comparable to the pinhole and the camera obscura, both precursors of the camera, where an image of reality is projected inside the box. This allegory also illustrates the conditions of man’s access to knowledge, as well as the transmission of knowledge — both of which are the very missions of the school.


• Spéos gets joins forces with AFP to launch unique training program in Photojournalism. This program combines the excellence of the practical teaching at Spéos with AFP’s expertise, offering students the opportunity to specialize in news photojournalism.


• Spéos gets involved in a brand new project named Quai de la Photo, a floating art centre dedicated to contemporary photography. Located on the Seine in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, it is a hybrid place that combines photography, navigation and catering. The place will open in 2023. The Spéos students will have access to this innovative cultural and artistic venue, where some of the school’s courses and conferences will take place.

• In order to further develop the video and CGI/3D classes, Spéos has invested in a new computer room equipped with 20 Apple computers and calibrated Eizo screens.

• Spéos launches on TikTok!

• The Spéos London Campus closes its doors for good due to the many direct and indirect complications linked to the Brexit. The professional photography courses at Spéos Paris remain accessible all year long in English and French.


• Spéos launches photography programs in 3 years, with a third year that focuses on the following 3 main areas: video, 3D/CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and niche markets. These trainings allow the development of expertise in cutting-edge domains that are more and more sought-after by clients, whoever they are (public or private, individuals or companies).

• Spéos obtains the Qualiopi certification, France’s quality label for training providers. In order to obtain this label, Spéos gathered all the necessary elements to demonstrate and prove its compliance with the indicators of the National Quality Reference System.

• The Niépce, Correspondances et Papiers website has been revamped: all Nicéphore Niépce’s correspondence gathered on this site is now accessible to all, on all browsers. Until now, it was only available in Flash.


• Spéos sets up a distance learning offer with an immersive online program in Commercial + Fine Art Portrait Photography, and a distance learning program in Blended Learning Professional Photography: available in English at Spéos London only, this program consists of 6 weeks on site, followed by 26 weeks of distance learning.

• During the second lockdown, which in France started on 30th October 2020, Spéos continues to operate normally and ensures the smooth delivery of all its programs.

• Spéos wins a grant from the European Union for a cooperative project entitled “The Cycle: European Training in Photographic Heritage Management”. The project, funded by the European Union’s “Creative Europe” program, is carried out by a consortium of 5 European partners. The objective: to develop a transnational training and networking programme in the field of photographic heritage management. Spéos is notably in charge of the development of the website dedicated to the project.

• The school intake, which has traditionally taken place in September for the past 35 years, starts in 2020 in October to await the reopening of the borders for international candidates.

• Due to Covid-19 and the mandatory measures to be followed, Spéos’ traditional end-of-year exhibition is for the first time entirely online, with the creation of a website dedicated to the presentation of the students’ work.

• So as to adapt to the current Covid-19 pandemic, Spéos reorganizes its teaching to ensure its primary mission: to train the photographers of tomorrow. Spéos thus continues to work online, allowing its confined students — wherever they are in the world — to continue their program in close connection with their instructors. The school thus adapts its pedagogy to distance learning. In order to prepare its reopening and to facilitate the return to practice, Spéos also equips itself with 12 new photo studios, to reach a total of 24 studios.

• Spéos expands in Biarritz and offers several short courses to introduce students to different fields of photography.


• Development of 3D and CGI (computer generated image) to support the evolutions and demands of the photo and image market.

• Spéos and Polka create a photojournalism program in 5 months in Paris.

• Spéos and INSEP create a program dedicated to sports photography, particularly in view of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

• Spéos is once again a partner of the Festival Circulation(s) de la jeune photographie européenne with the loan of equipment for Studio Photo 2019.

• Spéos hosts the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Winter Session.

• Spéos also welcomes the National Association of Iconographers (ANI) for their internal training and portfolio readings of Spéos students, as well as the training courses of the Photoshop Club Paris.

• Spéos/Maison Niépce, together with the Clemenceau-de Lattre Museum and the Ministry of Culture, has created the Club des Illustres, an association aimed at promoting exchanges between the Maisons des Illustres in order to create a professional network and make the Maisons and their activities known to as many people as possible.

• Spéos welcomes the very first Urban Photo Race in Paris, with the Photoclub Paris Val-de-Bièvre.


• Spéos L’Annexe: Spéos extends its premises and opens a new vast space, with the aim of hosting photo and video studios, conferences and various events organized in collaboration with the school’s partners (Magnum Live Lab 2017Journées Matos Leica…).

• More video classes at Spéosvideo courses were previously optional. They are now automatically included in most of the professional photography programs. In order to do so, the school has been furnished with advanced professional equipment.

• Spéos and Magnum Photos London launch a new short program in 5 months, available in London only.

• In 2018 again, Spéos is a sponsor of the Circulation(s) European Young Photography Festival and more particularly lends photo equipment for the Studio Photo 2018.

• Launch of the optional year of professional coaching: open to students who have successfully completed a long-term program at Spéos. This optional year is recommended to those graduates who wish to continue to benefit from the reassuring framework of the school, so as to start their professional activity.

• Launch of the distant learning offer, exclusively designed for Spéos Alumni as part of the Alumni Care Program of the school.

• Spéos welcomes the RISD “Winter Session”

• Spéos hosts, since 2010, the National Association of Iconographers (ANI) for their internal training and portfolios readings of Spéos students.

• Spéos also hosts, since 2010, the Club Photoshop Paris trainings, which brings together the best specialists in this application.

• Spéos becomes a training organization referenced in the Datadock tool, a unique database on qualitative vocational trainings. It enables vocational training funders to verify the compliance of training organizations with the quality criteria defined by the law.

• Spéos confirms its commitment in the research and development of the inventions of Nicéphore Niépce with the appearance of the Pyréolophore into Le Musée des Arts et Métiers on Thursday, September 27 at 7pm. After many years of research, the Nicéphore Niépce House and its team have officially proven that the invention of Nicéphore Niépce, named the Pyréolophore, is the first internal combustion engine in the world.


• The French magazine Paris Match and Spéos partner up to create a new and exclusive “Photo-reportage and Press Magazine” program in Paris. This new program is a 2 year long program and is taught in French only.

• Spéos is an official partner of the Voies Off Festival in Arles, which takes place during the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie the first week of July.

© Spéos


In 2016, Paolo Roversi and Spéos create a unique 1-year master class for Fashion Photography on the Paris campus. The formal program is delivered by Spéos and its appointed teachers, and complemented by the Art Direction of Paolo Roversi and Dominique Issermann.


In 2015, Magnum Photos and Spéos are partnering to create a new and unique 1-year master class for Creative Documentary & Photojournalism in Paris.


• Spéos joins stock agency Alamy‘s 100% student project. This program is a unique way for students to get involved in stock photography: they upload their images for free and — for two years — receive 100% of the sales of their images.

• Renewal of partnership with Magnum Photos: for 5 months, students in the photojournalism specialization have been attending master classes taught by Richard Kalvar and the Magnum team. Group project here.

• Spéos lends its studios to “Comme les Autres”, an association founded by Laurent Onde to assist people with disabilities following an accident in their lives during the reconstruction process, to help them discover the world of photography and enable them to practice.


• Partnership with Magnum Photos and Spéos: students in the photojournalism specialization attend classes taught by representatives of the Magnum agency. Project 24 hours on the Champs Elysées.

• The Niépce House Museum is awarded the prestigious label Maisons des Illustres by the French Ministry of Culture.

• Lens Culture FotoFest Paris hosted for the 4th time at Spéos from November 11-13.


• Lens Culture FotoFest Paris hosted for the 3rd time at Spéos from November 12-14.

• Opening of  Spéos Alumni Studio in Paris, allowing our graduates to begin their professional careers.

Studio Alumni
Studio Alumni


• 26 ans, 26 promos, 1 expo: a collective exhibition in Arles in July.

• Lens Culture FotoFest Paris hosted for the 2nd time at Spéos from November 7-9. Watch the film.

• The photography school Spéos and the museum Maison Nicéphore Niépce in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes are happy to announce the online publication of Niépce – Letters and Documents, by Manuel Bonnet et Jean-Louis Marignier, the largest number of documents ever collected on the inventor of photography (1765-1833). This project is sponsored by the Académie des Sciences and the Académie des Beaux-arts.

• Initiated by the museum Maison Nicéphore Niepce, the “Route de la Photo” — a series of photo spots — invites visitors to discover Burgundy following the footsteps of the inventor of photography. Interactive Map

2010: Spéos celebrates its 25th anniversary!

• Lens Culture FotoFest comes to France for the first time during Paris Photo from November 15-17. It is be hosted by Spéos. Watch the film.


• Partnership with the Institut Image of ENSAM in Chalon sur Saône where were presented:
– a 3D video displaying the internal mechanism of the Pyréolophore – a creation by Hadrien Duhamel;
– the birth of the first camera: where, how and when the “baguier d’Isidore” (a little jewel case) was transformed into a camera thanks to the dismantling of the family’s solar microscope;
– the entire Petiot-Groffier lab in the House of Nicéphore Niépce on the occasion of the National Heritage Days.

• Conference-Debate-Exhibitions in Dubai at the Alliance Française.

• Slideshow of Spéos students’ work at the Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai.

• Partnership between Spéos/Maison Niépce and the Swiss Camera Museum at Vevey:
– creation of a showcase dedicated to the work realized in the House of Nicéphore Niépce;
– donation by Spéos/Maison Nicéphore Niépce of an important collection concerning the beginnings of digital photography.


The Academician Lucien Clergue invites at the Academy of Fine Arts Jean-Louis Marignier, researcher at the CNRS,  to report on ten years of research and restoration at the Maison Niépce.
See the article « Nicéphore Niépce reçoit les honneurs de l’Institut de France ».
See the Lettre de l’Académie des Beaux-Arts.
See the Bulletin de l’Institut de France 2008.

• Spéos and Maison Nicéphore Niépce have decided to celebrate the bicentennial of the Pyréolophore by rebuilding it as it was originally. It is the first internal combustion engine ever, which was invented and patented by the Niépce brothers in 1807. Ten years later, they were the first in the world to make an engine work with fuel injection system. A celebration took place on the occasion of the “Journées du Patrimoine” (National Heritage Days) 2008, in the very place of the invention… in the House of Nicéphore Niépce, as well as in November on the occasion of the Science Festival in the Institut Image of ENSAM in Chalon sur Saône.


• Students at Spéos have the possibility to obtain the degree of a European Master of Professional Photography accredited by E.A.B.H.E.S. (European Accreditation Board of Higher Education Schools).

• The Spéos/Nicéphore Niépce House projects get the support of the Académie des Sciences.

• Discovery by Spéos of the world’s oldest Photographic Lab.

• Set-up of the Bus of Photography, in collaboration with the Rencontres d’Arles.

• Spéos becomes an Apple Authorized Training Center


• Spéos’ subsidiary, PixOclock.com, the image bank for independent professional photographers and former students at Spéos, moves onto a new search engine, Phraseanet IV. The photographers on PixOclock are the first in France to enter the Adobe Photographers Directory, accessible via Bridge in Adobe Photoshop CS2.

• Spéos becomes an Adobe Expert center.


Opening of Niépce’s House as a museum. Publication of the most important compilation of documents ever collected on Niépce, the inventor of photography.


• Launch of PixOclock.com – a photo search engine and viewing platform, which allows photographers to broadcast their images in real time.

• Our film “Niépce’s House” is selected for screening at the Festival du Film de Chercheurs in Nancy.


Our documentary film, “Niépce’s House”, is presented in Savannah/USA, and at the Festival International du Film Scientifique d’Orsay in France.


Presentation of the archeological discoveries at Niépce’s House in the Antique Theatre during the R.I.P. at Arles.


• Discovery of the house in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, where Nicéphore Niépce took the world’s first photograph, which is currently exhibited in Austin,Texas.

• Publication of the book Beginning Photography using the Stop-System in English and French, co-written by Pierre-Yves Mahé, Richard Zakia and Gordon Brown.


AltaVista declares www.speos.fr the primary website worldwide in the field of “photo education”, for its visibility.


• Foundation of Prophot-Numérique by Spéos and Prophot.

• Numerous firms have all of their employees trained at Spéos, introducing them to the new technologies:
– Agences Magnum, Reuters, Gamma, Deadline, DPPI, Jacana, Hoa Qui, Keystone, Explorer, Top, Rapho
– Canon France, Nikon France, Fuji Film France, Konica France, Minolta France
– Cartier Joaillerie Internationale
– Groupe Hachette: Paris Match, Onze Mondial, Télé 7 Jours, France Dimanche, Ici Paris, JDD
– Studio Peter Lindbergh
– Studio Luce / Paolo Roversi

• Program for the hearing-impaired: special courses are set up at Spéos allowing, for the first time in France, the hearing-impaired to get a photographic training. France Télécom (Forum of digital communication) and Spéos sponsor a year of studies for a young deaf girl in the United States (at Rochester Institute of Technology / NTID): Nadia Kantara. Since then, while keeping links with NTID through videoconference, she has taught two years at Spéos.


Set up of the first Spéos website, hosting the Rencontres d’Arles and the S.I.P.I. (Salon de la Photo à Paris) web pages.


Pierre-Yves Mahé becomes an Apple Expert.

© Spéos
© Spéos


Distant learning: Creation of trans-Atlantic photo courses, simultaneous classroom discussion on commonly viewed images, between Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and Spéos via high speed Numéris telephone lines.


Invention of the “Spéos transmission kit”, a precursor of Internet transmissions, distributed by the French company SAGEM, which permits distant image discussions via telephone lines. Spéos used this kit at the closing evening at the Rencontres Internationales d’Arles (RIP), to enable photographers Ralph Gibson, Arnold Newman, Harry Calahan, and Eveline Daitz, from offices in Manhattan, to view and comment on their work projected on a giant screen in the Arles Antique Theatre to some 3,000 persons.


First Winter session at Spéos in collaboration with the Rhode Island School of Design.


Spéos develops the Stop-System, a method to teach darkroom printing and exposure basics in the studio. The Stop-System is currently taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

January 1985

In January 1985, French photographer Pierre-Yves Mahé, passionate of innovative techniques, founded Spéos, a dynamic photography school with international vocation. He created links with the best universities (RISD, Hamilton College, Chicago Art Institute, RIT, …), who recognized the importance for their students to study abroad as part of their course.

How to get to Spéos Paris

Come by visit Spéos (preferably on appointment)!