It was an exciting end to the year for students studying on our BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Commercial Photography for Fashion, Advertising & Editorial programmes following their annual Visual Culture Symposium last November.
With presentations and discussions from leading industry practitioners and the chance for portfolio reviews, our students were given invaluable insight into various areas of photographic business and the chance to network with industry specialists.
We picked out our symposium speakers key advice for students:
Eileen Perrier is a photographic artist who has exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery, Tate Britain and The Whitechapel Gallery: “Networking is so important, I’ve always tried to stay in touch with people, which has resulted in my images being used on the cover of a Liz Wells book and in various publications.”
Originally hailing from Exeter, British artist Darren Harvey-Regan has exhibited across London, Europe and the US and has featured in Another Mag, American Suburbs X and various printed publications: “I’ve really felt the value in working around others, I made a great group of friends during my MA and share a studio with them, this leads to self-initiated group crits and networking opportunities.”
Jai Tyler is the Education & Projects Organiser at The Photographers’ Gallery, which has curated exhibitions by some of the most influential names in the industry including, Juergen Teller, Robert Capa, Sebastiao Salgado, and Andreas Gursky: “It can take 3-5 years to get to a place where you want to be, don’t panic when it doesn't happen overnight.”
“Everyone has talent but left alone it is not enough, you have to work on it and have drive.” — Gio Staiano
A well-respected curator and reviewer, Bridget Coaker is the Picture Editor at The Guardian and Director of Troika Editions. She is also a regular speaker at our annual symposium, providing in-depth guidance on the industry: “Do not waste your opportunity of being at college, it is the perfect chance to experiment, make mistakes and learn from failures.”
Alongside his work as a photographer, Jason Shenai is Founder & Director of Millennium Images. His regular clients have included The Observer Magazine, The Telegraph, Penguin Books and Wolff Olins: “I started off as an assistant, there is nothing like hands-on experience. There were several times when it felt draining and unfulfilling, but you never get that wealth of experience any other way.”
“Do not be under any disillusion, photography is mean." — Germaine Walker
Ray Massey is an advertising photographer with clients ranging from Samsung and Estee Lauder to Coca-Cola and Sony Playstation – to name a few!: “Your portfolio is your insurance policy, don’t be afraid to be ruthless with your own critiquing. Only put stuff in your portfolio that you want to do, there is no point in adding what others like because you won’t have the love for it!”
Fashion and editorial photographer, Gio Staiano’s work has been in The New York Times, Vogue, i-D Magazine and Glamour: “Everyone has talent but left alone it is not enough, you have to work on it and have drive.”
Scarlet Page, a music and publicity photographer is known for her work with The Verve, The Beastie Boys, The Foo Fighters, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Rolling Stones, Stereophonics and Placebo with pictures appearing in The Times, The Independent and Mojo amongst others: “My best advice for aspiring music photographers is to always start working with new bands, not only do you not know where they are going to go but they are also more willing to help you and give you time.”
With over 20 years experience in the image making business, photographic agent, Germaine Walker told our students: “Do not be under any disillusion, photography is mean. People will want something for nothing, no one else is working for free so there is no reason why you should!”
With a client base including RBS, V&A, Jim Beam, Campbells and Mandarin Oriental, advertising photographer Richard Maxted held portfolio reviews with many of our commercial photography students: “Photography is a beautiful, caring, loving, sensual bitch! It can give you highs and pound you into the ground.”
Seamus Ryan, an advertising and editorial photographer, has been awarded by The Association of Photographers and D&AD for his work and has work included in the National Portrait Gallery's permanent collection: “Whichever way you think your career is going to go, stuff happens.”
Alongside the two-day symposium, students also had the opportunity to visit galleries and museums as well as organised visits to studios like Taylor James, one of the UK’S most prestigious retouching and digital post production studios, Spring Studios, London’s premier studio facilities and The Print Room at the V&A with the chance to have first-hand access to a selection of photographic prints from their archive.
Self-sufficient, highly motivated, and determined to succeed, graduates need to acquire a range of skills to be able to thrive in the creative industries. This annual curated symposium is a significant investment into ensuring that our students are better prepared for life after study.