Every photo we take has become more poignant than ever before.

    As the world continues to adjust to the ‘new normal’ (whatever that means), we are continuing to witness the consequences on the creative industries. Some good, some not so good. When it comes to photography, it has been particularly interesting. Artists have begun to let go of conformity in order to visually document through the rawest, compelling formats. We see the likes of Alessio Albi continuing his portraiture shoots on Facetime, National Geographic photographers documenting the world on pause and Vogue replacing A-List stars with front-line workers. We even have local photographers such as our friend Megan Jepson, creating a compelling series of images named ‘Love Lockdown’ (all proceeds going to West End Women and Girls Centre) which documents North-East couples who have been together during the lockdown period.

    To summarise, photography, this media has become less about perfectionism and more about realism. Every photo we take has become more poignant than ever before. Why? Well, because every photo is a moment in history. The kind of history which will have the same level of permanency as many wars.

    The Explore Stage of the TICE Programme focuses on skills development and hearing from individuals spanning from multiple roles in the industry. Over two days, students explore by stepping outside of the school grounds and experiencing it for themselves. For Day One, we were able to do exactly that. Of course, Day Two took a surprising turn when the majority of the population were stuck in their homes.

    As a result, we decided to practice what we preach. We got creative ourselves and decided to put Day Two on our online platform instead, under the name ‘TICEolated’. Not only this, but our tasks were inspired by the many artists who were beginning to document their reality.

    Here’s what we covered in TICE Photography Explore 2020 with 56 students from 4 North East schools: Burnside College, Longbenton High School, Royal Grammar School and Dukes Secondary School.

    The Studio Experience

    The foundation of skills developed on TICE Insight was truly put to the test for the first day of TICE Explore, as students had the opportunity to live a day in the life of a Further Education (FE) student in Newcastle College’s Photography department.

    Jennine introducing the TICE Photography students to a professional photography studio

    After a wander around the building, students were led to the studio, editing suites and darkrooms. This would be the location of their first task, set by lead photography mentor Jennine Wilson. The students were allocated groups, given a memory card and off to their studio space, where awaiting them was an emotion they had to portray in their photography. The plot twist, however, was to not tell the others. It was all a guessing game. This was a fantastic way for students to not only experiment with lighting equipment but to discover the key techniques behind portraiture photography, including the ability to direct.

    Students introduced to new photography equipment and having a go!

    To develop a contrast, students were also tasked to work on still life photography. Once Jennine provided a brief demo, students were given a selection of props and off they went. Interestingly, we began to see students either more at ease or more frustrated. Ultimately, that is the intention at this stage of the programme. It is to not only showcase the difference between these two formats but to allow young people to experience it for themselves and make their minds up about where they thrive best.

    Introducing the editing side of photography

    Students were also introduced to lecturer and documentary photographer, Alan Thoburn. He kindly showcased the widely respected art gallery at Newcastle College, including his work which was on display. He discussed the concept and intentions behind his work displayed in the gallery before taking the students into the editing suite, where he went into more depth on studying with Newcastle College.

    Alan Thoburn, introducing TICE photography students to the gallery at Newcastle College.

    Let’s look at this from a different angle…

    Well, we really had no choice. Lockdown (partially) closed schools on the 20th March, and our physical workshops became digital through our very own TICE-olated campaign. Photography became even more imaginative and inventive as the students were only able to use what was around them. The Photography TICE-olated page was filled with employer interviews this included industry professionals such as,Adrian Lourie (Commercial Photographer), Chris Younger (Fine Art Documentary Photographer), Wiesia Bojko Allen (Wedding Photographer), Megan Jepson (Digital Content Creator) and Joan Hall (Creative Photographer) who kindly shared their words of wisdom via Zoom and provided tasks for our students to get their teeth into during lockdown.

    I really liked when Adrian Lourie said he was anxious about having a connection with the person he is taking the picture of. When I think about myself having anything to do with photography and portraiture, in particular, I don’t know how I’d be able to make it all-natural, make a comfortable environment that allows me to do well but that can only be done if the person or people involved feel good too then the final product is better. I guess it was comforting to know that it’s not just me with worries like that.

    Dzesika Zajda, Burnside College.
    A snapshot of some of the photography interviews.

    The main thing that caught my attention was how you could work on exhibitions because I like the amount of creative freedom you can have when working on a project, rather than taking photos for magazines as I feel the amount of creativity would be limited. I love using creativity in subjects like photography and art as there are countless ideas you could photograph or draw, and it can be an original piece. Plus I don’t like the sound of commercial photography, I believe there could be a lot of pressure in that area because it would be targeted to a large audience that would see your work and it could determine if they buy the product or not, therefore I don’t think I could do that job role.

    Aeryn Alexander, Longbenton.

    The tasks included:

    • The Scale of Things. Forced perspective is an optical illusion that occurs when deliberately tricking the viewer into thinking that an object is larger or smaller than it actually is. The illusion is created through the careful staging of viewpoints and camera angles. Photographer, Chris Younger, challenged students to do exactly that – create an image which flips and reverses our sense of scale.
    • Self-Portraiture. Learning about ourselves and who we are, may help us to understand how to approach and feel comfortable photographing others. By putting ourselves in front of the camera we can experience what it is like to be photographed and therefore understand in the future how models/sitters may feel when you take their portrait. Photographer, Adrian Lourie, challenged students to create a self-portrait which communicates and evokes something about oneself to the viewer.
    • ‘Current Mood’ board. Set by Joan Hall – Fantasy Portrait Photographer, the students were challenged to showcasing an understanding of the concept (story), style and expression aims of the photoshoot. By developing mood boards to communicate to a team the idea for an elaborate fantasy location photoshoot.
    • Extreme Close-up. Macro photography is close-up photography of a subject, for example, flowers. Their task – To create a series of macro images of nature, this can include, flowers, plants, insects, animals or pets. The idea is to capture a beautiful fragment of the world that no one else has seen.
    Xuehan, Royal Grammar School, ‘Scale of Things’ Challenge.

    *If you would like to hear more about industry interviews, tasks and challenges please get in touch about the TICE Programme.

    Who we’d like to thank:

    We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without those who continue to support and inspire in our workshops. Firstly, a huge thank you to Newcastle College for (as always) being so accommodating and allowing us to use your fantastic facilities.

    A welcome to TICE and a big thank you to Jodie Lightning, for supporting us on the workshops and contributing to this blog post. Jodie has recently moved to Newcastle to study her master’s degree and start her illustration business, Oh! Lightning. Be sure to check out her incredible work.

    Newcastle University – unfortunately, we were not able to visit this time around but hopefully we will be returning to your beautiful campus very soon.

    To the industry professionals, Adrian Lourie (Commercial Photographer), Chris Younger (Fine Art Documentary Photographer), Wiesia Bojko Allen (Wedding Photographer), Megan Jepson (Digital Content Creator) and Joan Hall (Creative Photographer) for your extremely valuable interviews.

    The response has been nothing but amazing, thanks to you all.

    TICE-olated has obviously not been the same as the Insight Stage. Although, it has been fun to keep busy at home. TICE-olated has let me learn new skills such as taking lots of photos at once to capture a movement without any blur. It has been good to have a photography task to work towards at home. I think TICE-olated has helped at home for me to stay busy, keep to a deadline and get going to do something.

    (Millie Clark, Photography, Longbenton)

    TICE-olated has helped a lot in maintaining and improving my photography skills and perceptions.

    (Andrew Chaddha, Photography, Longbenton)

    A huge congratulations to this year’s TICE Photography team. Here’s to continuing to capture the transformative twenties the only way we know how!

    Stay in Touch

    For further information on the creative, design and digital industry workshops provided please get in touch.


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