After working in and out of the photographic industry for 12 years at the age of 27 I decided to go back to University and finally attain a degree in photography. This sudden change came about as I was being made redundant for the second time in 6 years, the first time I went to work on a cruise ship as a photographer and this time I was also contemplating going back to photography full time.
The main issue that I had was that I had only been working part time as a photographer and doing a little bit of teaching since returning from the ships, this meant that I didn’t have enough clientele to take the plunge and go full time freelance straight away. I decided to contact Ikea and River Island who have teams of photographers working for them to get a job, but was rejected from both. A couple of calls later I found out the reason why, I did not have a degree in photography. This I found rather strange as my portfolio wasn’t bad, but I was informed due to the number of applicants and how popular photography is they will only look at your portfolio if you have a degree on your C.V.
That settled it for me, it was at that moment that I decided to go back to University and study; being the end of October I had already missed enrolment for that year but decided I would try anyway. I looked at a few Universities and Colleges as I did not want to do a fine art based course, I want to earn money from photography, real money and I struggle to see that with fine art. Eventually I came across a course at Ravensbourne College, a very new course which included only digital photography and was aimed at commercial photography; Brilliant, so off I took myself to London whilst emailing to get an interview. When I arrived I asked to speak to the head of photography John Gulliver, as I wait for him an email arrived saying that I could have an interview at 2pm… it was 11am and I was ready to be interviewed now!
John eventually came down a little confused, reminding me that there are procedures to follow and interviews to have; so I told him that I didn’t have time for all that and wanted to start immediately. After a short chat and showing him some of my work I was allowed to start the course at the beginning of the next week. My time at Ravensbourne opened up a lot of opportunities, I met many great people in the industry, photographed on stage with Jessie J, Wiley, Lawson, Amelia Lilly, Charlie Brown and went back stage with Union J.
Entering the course thinking I was a portrait photographer couldn’t be much different to what I do now, yes I enjoy portraits and am not too bad at them but my passion and skill revolves around still life and the automotive sector. Having networked with so many great people in the industry and trying out many set briefs on the course I was able to make an educated decision of the direction I wanted to follow.
I am due to graduate this year on the 24th November but have already received my results, I have been awarded a first class degree that I am very proud of but could not have done it without the help of a few people. The first would be my beautiful fiancée Dora, she has been there since the beginning and pushed and supported me through the whole process. The second most important person to thank and society is Jo Macdonald from The Royal Photographic Society, over the last few years she has proved to be a valuable asset for me helping with information that I needed and introducing me to people who otherwise would have been un-reachable for my research such as Albert Watson, Terry O’Neil and Annie Leibovitz.
My aim 3 years ago when starting this degree was to work for a few magazines, I currently work for around 5 magazines and these are increasing on a weekly basis. This takes me to my new goal, advertising… currently I have completed some promotional work for Noble Automotive of their M600 Speedster Prototype which has been well used by them and Michelin. It only takes one person to say yes to get the ball rolling.
This leads me onto the main part of this blog post, following my degree I had a short article written about me in The RPS Journal, it features 2 of my images and a bit of text in a section they called “Graduates destined for success”. Having spoke with the new editor at The RPS Annual Awards ceremony last week I am looking forward to a much larger feature sometime soon.