Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Photo: Camera Arts

Advice For Fresh University Photography Students

Ready yourself with this information and hit the ground running

by Chloe Parker and Genea Bailey for #PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine

University is daunting and full of the unknown. You must ease into a completely new social group, survive on beans-on-toast, find your way around a strange city, all the while pulling in great grades, making phenomenal images and defining your artistic voice.

However, if you start university this year, calm your all those nerves because we’ve put a call out to our graduate friends and colleagues to crowdsource all the advice you need when starting a photography (BA) degree. These are the things graduates wish they had known before.


“Go to galleries and get inspiration from other photographers — it’s not about copying other photographers, it’s about getting inspired, which in turn sparks your own creative ideas.” — Emily Faulder @Emily_F_Photos

“Once you know what you love to photograph, it’s easy. And if you work hard, anything is possible” — Darcie Judson @DarcieJudson

“Don’t worry if you don’t find your style straight away, you’ve got plenty of time.” — Hannah woods

“I wish I’d realised that I didn’t need to buy any equipment before starting uni due to the facilities and equipment that the Media Loan shop provides for free.” — Evan Merner @evancphoto

“Take advantage of 1 to 1s with tutors and listen to your peers’ advice!” - Alannah Lucy Messett @AlannahMessett

“Experiment with photography. Whether it’s shooting film or digital, w/ lighting techniques or different genres etc” — James @jjudgephoto

“Make sure that your business strategy is discussed & treated with equal importance as your critical/artistic practice.” — Laura Saunders @LoSaunders

Lecturer critiquing a student’s work Photo: Bath Spa University

“BUDGET! Photography can be expensive — especially your final major project. Make sure you save some money aside to pay for printing in particular. Take advantage of student deals at local printers. If local printers don’t do student deals, there is no harm in asking if they can give you a student discount!”- Emily Faulder @Emily_F_Photos

“Keep shooting your own stuff for the joy of it. Don’t just do uni work, or you might end up disillusioned. Don’t worry if you don’t find your ‘voice’ or style for a while — experiment, learn about all genres, enjoy work-booking! Embrace that you’re a beginner & be open to every opportunity to learn. Allow the competition to inspire not intimidate you.” — Anneleen Lindsay @anneleenphoto

“You don’t have to be so quick to develop *your style*, just create” — Paul Ramirez @pablodiablo94

“Check that your course leader is/ has been/ was ever a photographer. You wouldn’t want a painter teaching you medicine” - Jon Levy @FOTO8

“I wish I’d know how much of it was practical and how much of it was essay based and what the modules covered. My style is commercial but I chose my current uni’s reputation over another uni whose modules were more suited to my style.” — Lily Sadin

“I think the main thing is that I wish I saved up more money before I started! Especially for photography where there’s loads of extra printing costs etc!” — Emily Taylor

“I wish I had known about the amount of networking you have to do, socialising with other photographers etc is so important and starting this earlier would have been helpful in regards with how to socialise and would’ve me a head start for my career.” — Alex Tilley

“Turn up, work hard and experiment.” — Sharon Harvey @sharveyphoto

“Start on your projects early. Don’t worry about coming up with the ‘perfect’ idea for a project — sometimes the best things come through trial and error.” — Emily Faulder @Emily_F_Photos

“I wish I had known that some courses focused more on independent learning!” — Lisa Gillies @lisagillies

“Take advantage of 1 to 1’s with your tutors and listen to your peers advice when in class, you never know if you can collaborate.” — Alannah Messett

Cass Summer Show 2016 Photo: London Met University

“Don’t be scared to ask for help, tutors are there to help you, and make an effort with your course friends, it’ll come in handy when deadlines approach and in the future after uni.” — Kate McShane

“Take time to edit your photos into a coherent sequence that flows. Throw out the obvious duds then gradually edit them down until you have a series of work that gels together and tells a story. Sometimes including one image that ‘jars’ with the others can weaken the impact of the series as a whole.” — Emily Faulder @Emily_F_Photos

“Throw yourself into the studio and keep shooting; you can only get better by trying. Use as much equipment as you can while you can!” — Kate McShane

“Take on extra new adventures, like helping with other art courses, challenge yourself.” — Annie Noble

“In first year create as much as you can without worrying about having a specific style! Create, create, create, experiment with mixed media and work across a range of subjects before finding out what interests you.” -Evan Merner @evancphoto

“What connections does the university have, the structure of the course, maybe speak to photography graduates and ask what they are doing now.” — Sheng Wong

“Remember you can always do more than what is set, there is no limit to your creativity.” — Lisa Gillies

“There’s a lot of reading and writing in photography! I wish I had brushed up on theories and known/ read about the different photography news sites that regularly show new projects — it’s so helpful when you’re in the loop!” — Alex Tilley

“It’s not about having the best camera, so if someone in your class has rocked up with the latest all singing all dancing DSLR then take heart in the fact that some of the most successful photographers use old medium format or 35mm cameras. Having an amazing camera in technology terms won’t make you a better photographer or mean you end up with better marks.” — Emily Faulder @Emily_F_Photos

Above all, remember, this can be the most exciting time in your life, full of mistakes, unsure experiments and becoming friends with people you’d never think you’d even meet. Have fun and create some great work.

@hashtagphotomag / @ParkersPhotog / @GeneaBailey