Where does your interest in photography come from?
I was working in London in the hospitality industry and wanted a change of career. I went travelling for two months and whilst I explored the different parts of the world I discovered an interest in taking photographs. I knew that once I returned from my travels this is what I wanted to do for a living so I began looking for courses that would put me on the right career path.
Why did you choose to study at Newcastle College?
I found the photography course on the Newcastle College website and the description of the course was a perfect match for what I wanted to do. The commercial focus meant that I could learn all about working to brief and with my interest in fashion, I could also incorporate this into my learning.
I rang the college and came in to see one of the student advisers at the campus. The staff at the college were really friendly and I got a really good feel for the place. I knew at this stage I wanted to study here.
Did you attend an interview?
After making my application through UCAS I was invited in for an interview where I brought along copies of my photography work. I was apprehensive at first as I had limited experience, however, after speaking to the tutor I was reassured that I’d be able to secure a place on the course but I would have to work extra hard in the first few months to get up to speed.
What did you learn during your first year?
The course taught us about lighting techniques and how to use various software used in the photography industry. We were taught employment skills from the very first day and within the course I was able to build my own website which promoted my work as a freelancer. This was great for me as I was able to begin promoting my work as early as possible, rather than waiting until I finished my course.
I knew that when I started I would have to put the extra work to get up to speed with things like Photoshop. As this was a completely new programme to me I often had to stay behind in class to learn new techniques. My tutors were amazing and really supportive, they’d often stay behind to help me out and I could always go to them for extra support when I needed to.
Were there opportunities for work experience?
I wanted to get as much work experience as possible so I tried to take up every opportunity to work with photographers that were working on live jobs. My tutors gave me lots of contacts and I then arranged my own work experience. I worked as a photographers assistant with Garrod Kirkwood on the college’s own summer marketing campaign for four weeks. I not only wanted to learn about the techniques used by professional photographers but I also wanted to see how they interact on a photoshoot. I also worked on a Halloween project with photographer Dan Prince for Alnwick Garden which taught me how to work to a creative brief.
How did the course prepare you for employment?
Throughout the two year course we received regular talks and workshops with professional photographers who were able to share their insights into the photography industry. This was really inspirational as it gave me something to aim for once I had completed my course. The tips and advice they gave really helped me to get where I am today.
What are you doing now you’ve completed your course?
Having enjoyed my time at Newcastle College so much I was worried that I’d have to move away to London to find work. I always wanted to progress into fashion photography but I was given the opportunity to take photos at a friend’s wedding and my business has grown from there! Through word of mouth I’ve shot 13 weddings in the four months since I graduated and I’m fully booked for next year too.
I’ve also been able to pursue my interest in fashion alongside my wedding photography and I work four days in a studio for local fashion retailer Capology. I’m responsible for the product shots and their look books which I really enjoy!
What would you say to others thinking about studying the course?
I couldn’t recommend the course enough. Having being apprehensive about my lack of experience I was put at ease by my tutors who supported me until the very end. Without their support and dedication I wouldn’t be where I am today. The course not only taught me the practical skills but it also gave me the essential skills that allowed me to set up my freelance work. If you want a course that opens your eyes to the photography industry and one that gives you real experience then this is it!