The students bustled through the automatic door, cameras in hands, windswept hair; they were ready for whatever the day had in-store for them. Katie Lee (Photography Mentor) greeted the schools and led teachers and students alike up many flights of stairs to reach the destination – room 110. Once everyone was settled and had warmed up slightly from the biting wind outside, Katie began by introducing the students to the work of influential photographer; Vivian Maier – a street photographer who was unassuming on the outside but made a big impact with her photography! A discussion was held about her work and the inspiration level in the room increased as techniques were analysed and unpicked, it was clear that many students were interested in learning more.
With no further ado, Katie proceeded to talk about an avenue of employment in photography which is perhaps most commonly known; wedding photography. She explained that it was certainly not a profession for the faint hearted but, if you wanted a challenge and liked to be pushed, it may be an ideal career opportunity. The students were eager to learn more about the occupation and, promptly, two well-known North East wedding photographers arrived on cue; Paul Santos (https://www.paulsantosphotography.com/) and Kelly from ‘The Twins Weddings’ (https://thetwinsweddings.co.uk/). Together, they held a short presentation about life as a wedding photographer and presented the pros and cons of the career to the group, mentioning all things from the amount of money they earn, to the impact on their family lifestyle.
Having presented this PowerPoint, the pair then set a task for the students which would challenge their creativity and resourcefulness in unforgiving weather conditions! Armed with fake flowers and a pair of Kurt Geiger high heels, Kelly explained the brief; the students were to go outside and use whatever props they could find (such as rings or nearby places of worship) and create a series of wedding-style photographs (and portraits) which were inspired by the work of herself, her sister and Paul Santos. Lens caps off and fingers on shutters, it was all systems go as the students took to the streets of Newcastle! While some individuals immersed themselves in the religious aspect of weddings, photographing church interior shots, others celebrated the fun and photographed their friends flinging the bouquet of false flora behind them.
Once everyone had taken their final photographs, we headed back into the warmth of the University to review the images and to giggle at the poses. Both Kelly and Paul Santos worked on a one to one basis with each of the students helping them analyse their work and showing them where they could improve. After a final quiz on wedding photography and its fundamental elements, it was time to break for lunch.
Upon meeting back at the University, the students were ready for the next part of the day and we began the short walk to the Biscuit Factory Art Gallery. Katie explained on the way that she was leading them to a resident artist at the Gallery who had photographed celebrities and taken portraits of subjects of newspaper articles. When we arrived we descended downwards into the basement and along an array of corridors until we reached the artist’s workspace; Angela Carrington, at The Bigger Picture.
Once everyone had squeezed into the room, Angela began to tell the students about her work and how her work focusses predominantly on meeting the needs of her clients – making the ordinary extraordinary! She exemplified this by showing the students images of a collection of cutlery she had been asked to photograph in order to advertise and promote the client’s products. ‘I know what you’re thinking’ she went on to say, ‘cutlery isn’t the most exciting thing in the world to photograph, especially not THIS cutlery!’ (a response of laughter filled the little space there was in the room) ‘but doing a job where you’re creatively working for others requires you to MAKE the cutlery exciting’ she explained. Angela then revealed the image she had created and that she had come up with the idea of constructing a picnic type of scene in which to frame the fairly mundane knives and forks. ‘Although it meant I had to source materials to make the scene’, Angela elucidated, ‘it was worth the extra effort to create an appealing photograph that is different from the standard, which is why the client’s cutlery will be recognised’.
After a compact, yet interesting and one-chance opportunity to see inside of the real world of photography, Katie led the students back the University. While walking back, she asked them what they felt they had learned and almost every student said they felt that they had an increased awareness of the industry and that it wasn’t what they had anticipated.
‘The Biscuit Factory was really interesting because we got an insider to what actually happens on a day to day basis in the photography world’
‘I really liked Paul Santos’s work because of the vibrancy of the colours in some images compared with the darkness of others’
‘The best bit of today was taking the wedding photographs. It was really fun to experiment with different things’
TICE Work Experience