Photography Graduate: Yay or Nay?

If you are passionate about photography and thinking to apply for an undergraduate course, you are in the right place. How is everyone? Since last week, my life turned into a proper rollercoaster. There are many things to be done in a really, really short time, and the house being upside down with boxes and bags, doesn’t help too much.

This article is for you, YOU, who wants to start a degree in photography at an academic level. So, bear with me and I will share all that you want to know, all that is not written online, hoping to help you out and make the best decision for your future. Therefore, I will start with a brief intro, and I will tell you the what and the how when studying for a Bachelor’s Degree.

First things first, everyone has a different opinion and everyone will have a different answer for this. Maybe it has to do with the fact that art is subjective, who knows, but this is how it is. So, when I applied for the Photography course at Coventry University in the UK, to be completely honest with you, I was expecting to take photos and have mood boards, mainly focusing on the visual part and aesthetics. Graduates and students in the field were saying the exact same thing on Facebook groups and most of the communities I joined prior to my studying. It all sounded pretty easy and straight forward, I was really excited about it and actually ready for some stress-free university years. Let me tell you something, there is no such thing as stress-free university, especially when studying something in the art field!

Therefore, in the first year, I was shocked, honestly, there was nothing but writing, psychoanalysis, philosophy, theory, history, and then more writing, psychology, theory, and history. And then, when I was like, ok, let me pick up my camera, BOOM! Artist statements, project proposals, critical rationals, analysis, workshops, more writing, history, semiotics, semiology, theory and the list goes on and on and on. And please don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, not at all, everything mentioned had a clear purpose, allowing you to have critical thinking, allowing you to have an idea, back it up and create something good on your own as a result. Then it was the reading, and the reading list, as much as I love reading, in the first year it was too intense. The course is well organised, everything is linked together and helps you become not a good photographer, but an artist, and that’s what everyone wants, right? Because we want to become artists, we want to be able to express ourselves, our views and takes on life or different subjects, in a clear and concise way. And the course teaches you to do exactly that and prepares you for your career from the first year. Yes, you have each year a module that makes you focus only on your career goals and plans. Genius!

Sleep-deprived and in a frantic state of mind, I’ve found myself in the second year. All the modules were amazing, hard work, stressful, but amazing. Because I am not from the UK, I was constantly surprised by the way they teach here and how they treat students, they care, they get involved, they support you without even asking for help. So, there is no wonder that I got more confident, pleased with my grades, and finally taking good images. If you decide to pursue a degree in photography, we established that you have to write, read and so on, but you will get plenty of workshops as well which aim to teach you the basics of the camera and gradually move on to lighting techniques, editing in Photoshop, Premier and all you could think of. We actually had really cool workshops, some teaching us the basics of an assisting job, which is a really desired job after graduation. One of my favourite workshops that took place in both second and third year was with Anne-Marie Michel, teaching us how to retouch images in Photoshop at the highest standards.

[ You have industry guests as well, acclaimed photographers that come in front of you and explain their work and how they make it in the industry. Some photographed Obama, Brad Pitt, and red-carpet events. ]

Somehow, I am really surprised I remember that much of it because then I instantly woke up in the third year. Time was going faster than the shutter speed and I felt like suffocating when there were a couple of months left and all was soon to be over. I was discussing this with my classmates as well, it was a journey, but it felt like a couple of months, not years. The third year, despite having more work to do, was my favourite one. Why? Well, because I realised what type of career I wanted to pursue, how I will do it, and what MA I was going to follow. And I am really, really grateful for this because when I finished high school, I had no idea whatsoever about anything. So, it’s not only about academic teaching and learning but about identity as well. You are discovering yourself as an individual, not only from a creative perspective.

Also, you get to have your own exhibitions and that’s just amazing. It really gets you ready for the world out there, understanding exactly how it works and what you have to do once you graduate.

Hope my post will give some guidance, or at least help you make up your mind and decide if this sounds like something you could do, or, want to do. I personally hope the answer is yes, and you are ready to embark on a journey filled with coffee, or matcha, and get ready for a new life, or no life at all, depends on how you look at things. Personally, I am more than grateful and proud for this experience, the only disappointing part was COVID and the cancelation of our final year show and graduation ceremony. But there are still rumours that we will get to enjoy everything sometime in September. Who knows? More on this in my next post, I will make a gallery and show you my Final Major Project. Take care, stay safe, be creative!



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