About Defence

Defence School of Photography (DSOP)

Our mission is to fulfil the photographic training needs of our Defence customers from the Armed Forces, the MOD Police and the Civil Service, as directed by the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC).

Our Vision

Excellence in the provision of effective, timely and relevant photographic training across Defence.
School Crest

“Luce Scribimus” means ‘Writing with Light’

The early 1900's saw flying and photography both in their infancy, with few skilled or formally trained people. However, during the run up and commencement of hostilities in World War One, the benefits and value of aerial photography were quickly recognised. In the summer of 1915, under the umbrella of the Royal Flying Corps, the first School of Photography (SOP) was founded, later to be assimilated into the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Improvements in photographic technology, for example the introduction of roll film, enabled photography to be utilised in the map-making processes and also as the source of effective aerial reconnaissance; the real value of which became apparent during the Second World War. Millions of vital pictures were produced by military trained photographers. The best known publicly were the post strike pictures of the Dam Busters raid and the ultimate discovery of V1 and V2 rocket sites at Peenemunde.

Over the post war years, the School of Photography relocated a number of times, but still managed to train hundreds of RAF photographers and darkroom technicians, to provide support in countering threats during the Cold War era. In 1963, the school moved to its present location at RAF Cosford and in 1972 it became the training centre for all HM Forces photographers; the school was then renamed the Joint School of Photography (JSOP).

While maintaining a strong aerial photographic capability for the RAF into the 1980’s, changes within the photographic requirements of the Services towards the end of the century, necessitated a transition into the digital era. At the beginning of 2000, JSOP started to integrate digital concepts with traditional image capture and by 2004 the photographic training delivery became completely digitally orientated; fully meeting the demands across a wide spectrum of Defence centric customers. As a result of this increased activity, the JSOP once again assumed a new title and on the 6th June 2003 the school became the Defence School of Photography (DSOP).

Present Day

Example Image 1

The DSOP command chain is through the DISC at Chicksands in Bedfordshire. However the DSOP is still accommodated within the RAF Cosford training community as a lodger unit. The school is responsible for the photographic training of personnel from all branches of the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence and other Crown services. Housed in what is considered to be the largest purpose built school of its type in Europe, DSOP is justifiably proud of its ability to respond effectively to urgent training requirements in support of Operations. Up to eight hundred students are trained annually in a diverse range of photographic skills, from vocational to full professionally recognised levels of competence.

Photographic courses currently available range from Basic Camera Handling to Digital Imaging and Photoshop applications, through to modern Public Relations and Media requirements, including Electronic News Gathering (ENG).

Students successfully completing Professional level courses can achieve an Advanced Apprenticeship and gain recognition from the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP).
The training successfully provides the strength of photographic capability required, to provide evidential imagery of and for our Armed Forces in whatever role they are called upon to undertake, be it at home, abroad or on global operations.

Contact details

Defence School of Photography

RAF Cosford


West Midlands



01902 377493

Page rated 7 times
This page has an average rating of 1/5