Timeline – My journey into photography

Ever since school I didn’t know what to do with my life or what I wanted to be when I was older, because of this choosing what course to do at college was rather difficult. I have never been very good at written word or the academic side of things really, I’d prefer to be more hands on and do practical stuff as I find learning easier when you’re physically doing it rather than sat with a book and having to sit exams.

When finishing school I started a BTEC course in Production Arts which is basically lighting, sound and scenic construction for events, I chose this course as although I can’t play an instrument I’m really into music so I thought being the ‘behind the scenes’ backstage side of music might be good for me. This didn’t go quite as well as I’d thought it would as I found it difficult to manage the lighting and sound boards when it came to the setup of it all.

Although I had these thoughts of the course I stuck with it and tried my best but really I knew that it wasn’t for me and that I’d like to venture into a course based on about hobby of mine, photography. Once I’d finished the Production Arts BTEC I then applied for a foundation diploma in Arts & Design at Weston College where I wanted to focus on Photography. Once getting into Weston College I did the year course there to get a better understanding and knowledge of photography so that I can begin to improve my photography and attempt to possibly make a career out of it. The course went by really quickly as it was only a year course but I think thanks to the teachers, lessons and the assignments I was given my photography improved a lot and I had a slightly better understanding and knowledge of the technicalities of photography.

The foundation diploma helped me start my journey into photography but with it only being a year course I thought that there is still a lot I could learn and I really wanted to carry it on as it’s something I really enjoy doing. The problem here is that due to not being very good when it comes to written work and the academic side of things I thought that I may struggle if I were to go to university so for a while I put myself off that idea. After a while of thinking I then thought that if I weren’t to go to university that I’d have to get a job and having not had a job before I thought that would be a rather hard thing to get to terms with as well so that changed my thoughts a bit on whether to go to university or not as I’d rather be doing something I enjoy doing for several years rather than be working in a job that I may not really enjoy doing.

Once I’d had these thoughts I then thought more into whether to apply for university or not and eventually I decided that I would apply. I applied for UWE in Bristol and Bath Spa as at first I wasn’t sure if I was ready to move away from home or not but then I also put down Portsmouth University, Plymouth University and Plymouth College of Art as that way I had the opportunity to move away if I changed my mind on the idea and I thought areas like Portsmouth and Plymouth would be nice places to live in as compared to Glastonbury there would be a lot more going on and a lot more scenery for when it came to photography, like beaches.

Another problem with this process was that I’m not confident talking in front of an audience, even if it was only a small amount of people so because of this interviews were rather daunting for me. The interview at UWE was especially rather problematic for me as the interview was by two staff members but also two students, one in their second year and the other from third year so being interviewed by four people caught me off guard a bit. This particular interview didn’t go well and I wasn’t offered a place, unfortunately for  me this made my confidence worse as after being turned down once I thought it may happen again and I was right, Bath Spa also didn’t give me a place.

Having being turned down twice and with the last options being the places that would mean moving away I wasn’t really sure what to think at first but when it came to travelling to the places for the open days and the interviews I could tell how much of a better place these places were compared to Glastonbury and I then began to feel as if I could start a fresh new life if I were to move away, this made me feel slightly more into the idea of going to university and living away from home.

The rest of my interviews went well, I was offered places at Portsmouth University, Plymouth University and Plymouth College of Arts. There was one little issue though, Plymouth University changed the offer from BA (Hons) Photography to Media Arts. This change made unsure about what to do as I really liked Plymouth as a city and could see myself living there compared to Portsmouth but the after reading up about what the Media Arts course involves I wasn’t sure it would be my thing.

Luckily for me I had my interview at Plymouth College of Art and I was offered a place there and having the tour of the college I felt as if it would be a nicer environment to be in was I’d be surrounded by creative art students rather than loads of different students and also the college is a lot smaller so this also made me feel better about things as it would mean I could get to know many people, I wouldn’t get lost and I’d have access to lecturers easier if I were to have any problems or issues with my studies. Having being offered the place at the college and after spending time in Plymouth I felt as if it would be the right thing for me so I accepted my offer from them.

I’d say that without the help from my Dad I probably wouldn’t be where I am today, my Dad helped me out a great amount when it came to me struggling with exams, coursework, not understanding certain assignment briefs and many other issues that I had. Without my Dad’s help I don’t think I’d of knew how to handle certain things and would no doubt just give up on it straight away as usually that’s what I’d of done. Also my Mum helped me when it came to photography as she bought me my DSLR camera and without that I wouldn’t of been able to go out with the camera, take different photographs, experiment with the camera and photography as a whole, do the foundation diploma at Weston College or be where I am today, doing my BA (Hons) Photography course. As well as this though my Dad bought a DVD of the fundamentals of photography which included 24 lectures on various techniques and styles of photography as well as books on photography which helped me a lot with my knowledge and understanding of photography, my Mum also subscribed to the Digital SLR Photography magazine so having many of those magazines also helped with my knowledge of understanding of photography. As well as all this I’d be taken on many different day trips to places where I’d be able to photograph various subjects and my Mum also paid for me to have photography lessons in London and Weston Super-Mare, where I was going to go to college at the time. I’ve been very lucky to be able to have all this help and opportunities thanks and my parents and without them I don’t think I’d be where I am today, they have helped me a lot.

I can’t remember exactly where my interest in photography actually came from but ever since having a mobile phone which had a camera on it I’d be out and about photographing various things and a lot of the time that is all I’d be doing with my time. As I got older I realised how bad the quality of a camera the camera on phones were so I’d wanted to get a better camera for photographing. When on family holidays I’d ask my parents if I could use the camera that they had to take general holiday photos with to document the holiday, they’d let me use it and I’d then spend a lot of the holiday photographing different subjects, views and a lot of the time annoy my family by taking photographs of them that they didn’t know where being taken until I’d laugh about the photos once it was taken, every holiday this became a traditional thing. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I got my own camera as cameras a rather expensive so Mum said that I’d have to wait until my 18th to get one as that’s when she was willing to spend that amount of money on me as an 18th birthday is a special birthday, so I waited for my 18th to be able to get my camera. After having the camera I then spent a lot of my time experimenting with it, going out and taking photographs and buying different camera equipment for the camera like extra lenses. Having the camera meant I could carry on my hobby, spending my free time taking photographs and having the camera allowed me to do my foundation diploma and also now do my degree in Photography.

Being on the degree has been interesting for me so far as I’m in a completely new area so it gives me the chance to go out with my camera and explore the area to look for different subjects, areas and views that are worth photographing, I’ve also made new friends since being on the course which means I can go out and photographing with other people rather than just on my own and we can share the same interests and critique each other’s photographs. The critiques as part of the degree are also just as helpful, being rather insecure about talking to and presenting to an audience I thought that it would be an issue for me but so far it hasn’t been so bad, I’m going to have to work on my confidence for when presentations become more serious with more people to talk to and more work to present and talk about.

On the degree all I really want to do is gain more of an understanding and knowledge of photography as I think only doing photography for a year before in the foundation diploma I haven’t learnt as much as I could and I’m usually rather judgmental of my own work so I always feel as if my photos aren’t good enough or could improve. If I were to have more knowledge of photography I could then put that knowledge to practice and possibly be able to take better photographs due to the understanding and knowledge I would gain. Having a DSLR camera all of my work is digital based so being on the BA (Hons) degree means I’ll be doing a lot of darkroom and film based photography which is another reason for being on the degree, I’ll like to know how to work the many different cameras that are out there and be able to experiment with those cameras and gain more experience in the use of the different cameras there are and the processes and techniques that go with them, like processing film with chemicals in the darkroom. As well as this I’d just like to make friends that have the same interests as me, share my photography with others, enjoy doing photography as a degree and hopefully get some contacts and work experience while I’m doing the degree to push me that bit further to a career in the arts industry.

At this point in time I’m interested in close-up photography but also landscape photography, although I think that I could improve a lot in landscape photography, which I will hopefully do while on the degree. But for now I am interested in close-up photography and capturing subjects in ways that other people may not see them before, like photographing water at a really fast shutter speeds and using fast shutter speeds to create photographs in such a way that they look interesting. Having said that I do generally focus on close-up photography as a whole and like to use macro lenses and macro extension tubes to get closer to the subject than I could with a standard lens. As well as close-up photography I like to document different events with my photography, which sort of goes with my interest in landscape photography sometimes but the documentary and landscape photography still needs working on for now, for now I am most interested in close-up photography and would like to be able to work with that style of photography in a career somehow.

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