A year ago I sat on my mobile phone flicking through Photography Degree courses at University thinking how great it would be to apply but knowing that I would never get onto a course as I don't know the first thing about photography! Yes I love taking pictures and I have a DSLR camera but would that qualify me for a place at University? Not likely!
I had a great career working with children and I still do, but what I really want is a job that doesn't feel like a job, doing something that I would do for free anyway as I enjoy it so much, but with the added bonus of getting paid for it! (unfortunately I couldn't find anybody to pay me for playing candy crush)
My first step was looking for an access course that could qualify me for University so I started looking online at all the local colleges, there were times when I questioned myself, do I want to be a student, going to college and university at the same time as my own children? I am a great believer in the saying 'you are never too old to learn' so decided to bite the bullet.
One thing that worried me most was the cost of returning to college. I found a great course but with the price being in the thousands it seemed out of the question. Luckily while browsing I came across a link for the 24+ learning loan, this is a loan from the student loan company that covers the cost of many courses between level 3 and degree level. It is paid back through your wages when you are earning over a certain amount just like other student loans, and even better, if you go onto higher education (degree level) then the loan is wiped out! Without the help of this loan I doubt I would have even considered going back to college!
I decided against studying just photography at college as I didn't want to be overloaded with five years of studying just that and then get fed up of the sight of my camera. I decided to study Video, Photography and Digital publishing which was only a year long and was aimed at just adults as opposed to the photography course which was two years and 16+.
This year has been a bit of a whirlwind, juggling work, writing essays and keeping house but I have managed to keep my head above water and have learnt so much, including...
- How to use a DSLR camera in manual mode
- Exposure - Aperture, ISO, shutter speed
- Composition - Rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry
- White balance
- Documentary photography
- Studio and portraiture
- Photography and the law
- Photography development, dark room skills
- Photoshop editing and design
- Video camera settings
- Script writing
- Interview techniques
- Video sound and vision
- Making a drama
- Making a documentary
- Essay writing
- Report writing
- Research techniques, finding and reading information
- Writing a blog post (kinda knew that already)
- Graphic design
- Portfolio building
- Personal statement writing
- Preparing for university
And probably so much more that I cannot remember! Oh and did I mention that the head of Creative Arts and media gave me an award for being inspirational and a great role model to the other students...get me! Unfortunately I knew nothing about it and didn't turn up to the event where he was giving it out...oops!
Many of my classmates were not impressed with the way the course was run and had other expectations but to be honest I attended (nearly) everyday, took each challenge as it came, completed the work on time and managed to achieve 7 merits and 5 distinctions along the way. Most of all I met some really lovely people who I hope to keep in contact with (the joy of social media) and follow their progress into the world of photography and film making.
For anybody wanting to learn a new skill or take the plunge into a new career I would urge you to look up your local learning centre/college and see what is on offer.
I was offered a place at Southbank University where I will start my next learning journey in September and feel completely prepared and super excited! I also gained a new interest in graphic design while on my course and am currently working on a new venture...watch this space!