Talk from James Allen

Life After University

  • Graduated in 2012 from Falmouth University.
  • He became obsessed with documentary photography — Falmouth and South Wales were the only two places that offered the course.
  • Working as a freelancer for the past 5 years. Currently studying his Masters whilst working.
  • Once you leave university, it’s not as easy to make the mistakes in your practice as it is when you have fellow students and lecturers to pick you back up.
  • Has interests in politics and geography and engages with these through photography.
  • Tip for portraiture: you don’t want to be intimidating, but you need to develop a relationship with a subject so that they are comfortable with you.
  • He needed his projects after university as a graduate to be relevant and in trend for him to stand out amongst other graduate photographers.
  • No matter how good or bad you are, you should always be looking at other peoples work. “No ones work is unique — everyones influence is from somewhere, whether you have watched or read it”.
  • It’s important to be humble and empathetic around the people who you photograph. Some people may not be comfortable with having their photo taken, so it’s important to build that relationship.
  • “Photography is a series of failures, ultimately ending in success”.
  • It’s okay to graduate and end up with a job that isn’t photography related as long as you’re paying the bills whilst actively seeking work/agencies.
  • Being persistent is the key. If agencies are repeatedly seeing your work, they know that you’re working and actively trying to get yourself work.
  • Constantly send off your work for competitions and grants. Grants are a great opportunity for funding to build up your work and competitions are great to get your name out there. If you win, you can label yourself as award winning but if not, your work is still being seen and this is important.
  • Website tips: cut out all the rubbish and only share your best work. Set your standards of work really high, this is what the agencies and potential clients will see.
  • Learn how to set up a business: you will need a great accountant and it’s important to know how to deal with everything yourself as a sole trader.
  • Speak to other photographers. It’s okay to ask for help and advice when setting yourself up.

Here is a link to his website:

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