The 2021 SESSiON related to the Foundation Year IS NOW




From artistic photography to commissioned work, via still-life, documentary, portrait or fashion, this programme is for students passionate about photography as a medium and wishing to sharpen their eye and refine their technique. Prospective, pragmatic and experimental, this Bachelor course is provided in the framework of the Visual Communication Department, which concurrently offers crossover courses and projects enabling students to acquire multi- disciplinary skills (graphic design, interaction design, film).

Rewatch the live information session dedicated to the Bachelor Photography

Learning objectives


First Year

We give you the keys to:

  • Acquire digital and analogue photographic techniques (shooting, lighting).
  • Understand the operation of an analogue laboratory (developing films and black & whiteprints).
  • Develop your skills with digital software (Photoshop, Capture One, etc.).
  • Produce and edit moving images (clip).
  • Practice applied and visual photography (still life, portrait, architecture, staging, etc.).
  • Immerse yourself in cross-disciplinary courses in Graphic Design, Media & Interaction Design (website), 3D Animation (Cinema 4D) and 2D Animation (After Effects, Premiere).
  • Acquire background knowledge via theory courses (History of Art, Photography, Film, Digital Culture, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Contemporary Photography, Exhibitions and Publications).
  • Take part in weeks of workshops supervised by practitioners from all over the world with the aim of carrying out collective or personal projects.
Still life –  Cecilia Poupon
Still life – Charlotte Favre
Still life –  Noé Cotter
Portrait – Maewenn Bourcelot
Portrait – Sarah Coppet & Norida Ho
Architecture – David Benito Py, Alexandra Dautel, Matthieu Croizier
Staging course – Angèle Marignac-Serra
Workshop with Thomas Albdorf
Workshop with Thomas Albdorf
Workshop with TONK (Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs)

Second year

We give you the keys to:

  • Experiment with different hanging and installation techniques.
  • Work with brands and institutions.
  • Develop an editorial project (magazine photography and social networks).
  • Carry out a documentary project throughout the year.
  • Broaden your horizons through practical cross-disciplinary courses within a sequence (videoclip or VR) or editing project (of your choice) in collaboration with Graphic Design and Media & Interaction Design students.
  • Broaden your theory vision thanks to preparatory courses for writing a dissertation
  • Enhance your knowledge through theory courses (Information and Communication, Global Visions).
  • Take part in weeks of workshops supervised by practitioners from all over the world with the aim of carrying out collective or personal projects.
Set up course – Benoit Jeannet, Matthieu Croizier, Yul Tomatala
Collaboration with Zenith – Matthieu Croizier, Alexandra Dautel, Pavo Marinovic
Collaboration with Zenith – Anouk Maupu, Gaël Corboz
Collaboration with BMW – Zoé Aubry, Calypso Mahieu, Tanya Kottler
Collaboration with BMW – Elsa Guillet, Gianni Camporota
Collaboration with D'heygere
Collaboration with D'heygere – Sarah Koeke
Exhibtion and collaboration with Pierre Hardy at Paris Photo and in Tokyo
Workshop with Novembre Magazine – Julien Deceroi, Margaux Corda, Myriam Bomaglia, Margaux Piette
Documentary project by Etienne Malapert
Workshop with Peter Knapp
Workshop with Walter Pfeiffer
Exhibition and workshop with Ikaz Boï and Nicolas Poillot in Paris Photo

Third Year

We give you the keys to:

  • Produce a photography book.
  • Define your style and photographic directions.
  • Develop multimedia installations (projections, displays, sound systems).
  • Immerse yourself in cross-disciplinary courses to refine your collaborative skills in a transdisciplinary project (creation of a digital platform that includes Graphic Design, Media & Interaction Design and Photography).
  • Take part in weeks of workshops supervised by practitioners from all over the world with the aim of carrying out collective or personal projects.
  • Write a dissertation based on the knowledge acquired during the course.
  • Put into practice the know-how acquired in a graduation work and a portfolio, which will serve as a business card to integrate into the labour market quickly or continue your studies on an MA course.
Workshop with Olaf Breuning
Workshop with Melanie Bonajo
Exhibition at Images Vevey
Diploma project – Marvin Leuvrey  
Diploma projects – Guillaume Baeriswyl, Matheline Marmy, Clément Lambelet
Diploma project  – Gaïa Lamarre
Diploma project – Mindaugas Matulis
Diploma project – Romain Roucoules
Diploma project – Alexandre Haefeli
Summer University in Cuba

Career opportunities

Photographer of architecture, design, fashion or still life, Documentary photographer, Photo artist, Art director, Photo editor, Director of photography, Teacher…

Testimonials from ou alumni

Philippe Fragnière
Benoît Jeannet
Charlotte Krieger
Calypso Mahieu
Douglas Mandry
Charles Nègre
Jean Vincent Simonet
Anja Wille Schori

Other Alumni

BA and MA Photography: 
Anoush Abrar, Philippe Fragnière, Erwan Frotin, Yann Gross, Nicolas Haeni, Raphael Hefti, Philippe Jarrigeon, Florian Joye, Matthieu Lavanchy, Milo Keller, Namsa Leuba, Catherine Leutenegger, David Luraschi, Romain Mader, Jonas Marguet, Adrien Missika, Cyril Porchet, Laurence Rasti, Maya Rochat, Reto Schmid, Sebastian Stadler, Joël Tettamanti, Manon Wertenbroek…


Head Visual Communication
Vincent Jacquier

Head Photography
Milo Keller

Artistic assistant
Julien Gurtner

Léonard Guyot
Elisa Ribeiro
Margot Sparkes
Yul Tomatala

Technology Centre
Amaury Hamon
Vincent Jacquier
Tibor Udvari
Laurence Bonvin
Milo Keller
Natacha Lesueur
Marco Poloni
Joël Vacheron
Anoush Abrar
Multidisciplinary fields professors
Antonio Albanese
Angelo Benedetto
Claus Gunti
Vincent Jacquier
Violène Pont
Pauline Saglio
Anouk Schneider
Estelle Blaschke
Sami Benhadj
Ann-Christin Bertrand
Giliane Cachin
Matthieu Charon (RVB Books)
Angelo Cirimele
Nicolas Coulomb
Rémi Faucheux (RVB Books)
Matthieu Gafsou
Nathalie Herschdorfer
Robert Huber
Matthieu Jaccard
Philippe Jarrigeon
Jonas Marguet
Benjamin Muzzin
Nicolas Nova
Cyrille Piguet
Pierre Ponant
Jeanne Quéheillard
Paolo Roversi
Olivia Schenker
Lionel Tardy
Florence Tétier (Novembre)
Chi-Long Trieu
Orsola Valenti
Sebastian Vargas
Visiting lecturers
Viktoria Binschtok
Lucas Blalock
Mélanie Bonajo
Olaf Breuning
Adam Broomberg
Stefan Burger
Renate Buser
Antony Cairns
Pierre Debusschere
Ruth Erdt
Noémie Goudal
Yann Gross
Ren Hang †
Pieter Hugo
Ina Jang
Erik Kessels
Peter Knapp
Nico Krebs (Tonk)
Luce Lebart
Thomas Mailaender
Mazaccio & Drowilal
Théo Mercier
Taiyo Onorato (Tonk)
Christian Patterson
Harri Peccinotti
Antje Peters
Walter Pfeiffer
Nicolas Poillot (Études)
Alex Prager
Peter Puklus
Augustin Rebetez
Maya Rochat
Daniel Sannwald
Joachim Schmid
Anja Schori
Shirana Shahbazi
Jürgen Teller
Lorenzo Vitturi
Mirjam Wirz
Francesco Zanot


Yearly fees
CHF 1 925.–

Language: Français

Length: 6 semesters

Credits: 180 ECTS

Qualification issued
Bachelor of Arts HES-SO in Visual Communication, major in Photography 

Frequently asked questions


What are the qualifications required to register for the admission exam in Bachelor?


  • Maturity certificate or Professional Maturity certificate (vocational diploma) or certificate from a recognised three-year school of general education (ECG), each to be accompanied by a General Federal Certificate of Vocational Education (CFC) in the field of desired studies (list available on the ECAL website)
  • Maturity certificate plus at least one year attested vocational activity in the field of studies (except for BA Fine Art) or a Foundation Year successfully completed at the ECAL (or another recognised higher-education establishment of art and design)
  • Professional Maturity certificate with a General Federal Certificate of Vocational Education (CFC) in a profession unrelated to the field of studies plus at least one year attested vocational activity in the field of studies except for BA Fine Art) or a Foundation Year successfully completed at the ECAL (or another recognised higher-education establishment of art and design)
  • Specialized Maturity certificate in art and design (MSAD)
  • Equivalent foreign certificate*

* ECAL evaluates title's equivalences. This procedure being relatively long, a request of examination must be submitted by email to ECAL Secretariat until 17 February 2021 the latest. Request of evaluation submitted after the above mentionned date will not be processed.

Am I required to do an internship after obtaining my baccalaureate / high school diploma, in order to enrol in a Bachelor programme? What conditions apply?

In addition to the requisite diploma, registration for the Bachelor in Visual Communication (Graphic Design / Photography / Media & Interaction Design / Film Studies) or the Bachelor in Industrial and Product Design requires either:
- at least 36 weeks (or nine months) of full-time certified experience in the world of work related to the chosen field;
- or successful completion of the ECAL Foundation Year or of a recognized bridge year for the colleges of higher education in art*.

Professional experience or the Foundation Year diploma are recommended but not compulsory to register for the Bachelor in Fine Arts entrance exam.

* For example, in Switzerland, the Art & Design Foundation Year of CFP Arts Genève, the Art & Design Foundation Year of the édhéa (Sierre) or the Art and Design Foundation Year of Bienne/Bern. Don’t hesitate to contact the ECAL Secretariat for additional information.

Can ECAL help me find an internship allowing me to enrol in a Bachelor programme?

No. ECAL offers a foundation year, but does not help applicants find an internship to register for a Bachelor programme.

Is it possible to join the Bachelor programme directly in 2nd or 3rd year?

In some cases, recognition of prior studies may be granted in the form of ECTS credits, depending on the applicant’s previous education. ECAL management makes a decision to this effect only after the admissions procedure has been completed and on receipt of an artistic application providing information on all previous studies (type, field, skills, courses, credits, grades, etc.).

Can I register for the entrance exam for a Bachelor programme even if I don’t have the requisite diplomas or certificates?

Yes. ECAL may exceptionally accept applicants demonstrating extraordinary artistic talent in a Bachelor programme even if they do not meet the admission requirements. However, applicants must first send the ECAL Director a written waiver request.

NB: This concerns in particular applicants who have not completed any training and who have no diploma.  Applicants who are under 25 at the time of the application and who have a CFC or a diploma from an upper secondary specialised school (école de culture générale, ECG) must first obtain a professional or specialised baccalaureate before registering for a Bachelor entrance exam.

What does a waiver request comprise?

Applicants requesting a waiver submit an application comprising a letter of motivation, a CV and a portfolio. If the request is accepted, they can register for the entrance exam in the field they have chosen.

Can I register to do the entrance exam for the Foundation Year and for an ECAL Bachelor programme at the same time?

No. If in doubt, please contact the ECAL Secretariat.

Can I register for two ECAL Bachelor entrance exams at the same time?

No. You are allowed to register for only one Bachelor entrance exam at a time, as it is not possible to do the practical and/or theoretical tests for two at the same time. Don’t hesitate to contact the ECAL Secretariat if you have any questions.

Is it possible to follow a foundation year in a HE other than the ECAL (at the HEAD or the edhea for example), and then apply for a Bachelor's degree at the ECAL?

Yes, the successful completion of an equivalent preparatory year allows you to apply for a Bachelor's degree at the ECAL.

What are the maximum 15 documents included in the portfolio?

These are projects that can each contain several pages.


What are the languages of instruction?

Courses and workshops are in French in the Foundation Year and at Bachelor level (some Bachelor workshops are in English). Master / MAS programmes are for the most part bilingual (English/French). Fluency in French is therefore essential for the Foundation Year and Bachelor programmes. The same applies to English at least for Master programmes.

Do I need a language certificate to enrol in an ECAL course?

Yes. For the Foundation Year and Bachelor programmes, non-French-speaking applicants who have not attended school in Switzerland must be able to attest that they are proficient in French at the B2 level of the European Language Portfolio. The B2 level is required on registration.

Generally speaking, language proficiency is also checked by the juries during the entrance exam.


Does ECAL have a residence?

ECAL has neither a residence nor a campus, but it can, to a limited extent, help students looking for accommodation. As the housing market in the Lake Geneva area is relatively tight, students are advised to make arrangements well in advance.

Can ECAL act as a guarantor on a lease signed by a foreign student?

No, not at the moment.

Practical informations

Due to a serious lack of availability on the local market, it is very difficult to find an accomodation in Lausanne therefore you should look well in advance to find a suitable accommodation. Please keep in mind that you may be required to provide a
3 month safety deposit.

The following solutions are available:

Furnished studios or flat-sharing for students in Lausanne

Rooms to rent

Scholarships / tuition

I am a foreign student. Can I obtain a scholarship in Switzerland?

Educational assistance (grants or student loans) is awarded by the cantons and is intended for Swiss students (nationals, foreign permanent residents and persons with refugee status). It is not available to foreign citizens residing in Switzerland for the purposes of study only. However, the Swiss Confederation offers excellence scholarships to foreign students, researchers and artists for a period of study or research in Switzerland.

I am resident abroad. Will my tuition at ECAL be higher than for a student resident in Switzerland?

Except for the Foundation Year, where the course fees are determined by the student’s domicile, tuition is the same for all students in the same Bachelor, Master or MAS programme.


Does ECAL offer evening or summer courses? Can I sign up just for certain specific courses or workshops?

No, not at the moment.

Can I have a tour of ECAL?

En dehors des manifestations organisées par l’ECAL (expositions diverses, Open Day, etc.), aucune visite n’est autorisée à titre individuel. Des visites de groupes peuvent être organisées, mais planifiées suffisamment à l’avance. Le cas échéant, merci de contacter directement le Secrétariat de l’ECAL, à l’adresse

My company wishes to hire an ECAL student as an intern or employee. What do I have to do?

Please send the ECAL Secretariat, at, an advert in A4 PDF format containing all the information on the internship or job. The advert will be published on the ECAL intranet. Interested students will contact the advertiser directly.