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Jessica Kelly

"The most incredible three year journey of learning, growing, experiencing and finally finding my way to be what I have always wanted, to be a professional photographer."

Course: BA (Hons) Digital Photography

Year of Graduation: 2016

What appealed to you about Ravensbourne and your chosen course?

I was first introduced to Ravensbourne by my mentor while I was working at the Tate Gallery in the photography department. When I arrived for my interview at Ravensbourne, I fell in love with it instantly. The digital photography course was exactly what I wanted, a course that is completely industry led and gave me access to incredible kit.

How has your degree from Ravensbourne helped you achieve your professional goals?

The course allows you to explore all areas of photography which is excellent as I wasn’t sure which area I wanted to pursue my career in. The second year opened my eyes to documentary and photojournalism and this is what I do now as a freelance photographer. The course pushed me really hard to enhance my technical skills and the tutors were very supportive.  Ravensbourne gave me the skills and knowledge to confidently step into the industry and get paid doing what I love, photography.

What were the benefits you experienced from studying with us? 

I gained so much knowledge particularly on the technical side of photography, it is crucial to know your camera like the palm of you hand. Even though it isn’t part of the course to learn about cameras our tutors made it clear from the beginning to read though the manual like it is a best selling novel.  Learning all about photographic kit, lighting techniques and studio practice has been extremely beneficial to my career. 

The course is made up of a variety of students whose work focuses on different areas of photography. At Ravensbourne we were advised to collaborate which is such a valuable piece of advice whether it be just assisting someone on their shoot or working together on a personal project, it definitely encourages creativeness and enhances your overall skills.

Please list any highlights from your time at Ravensbourne (awards, industry experience, professional links, social experience).

Introductions to professional contacts including Leica, BAFTA and The Guardian. As a result I was commissioned by The Guardian to shoot a project that was featured online.

Great guest speakers from the photographic industry. Workshops were set up with Leica and professional photographers such as Laura Pannack and Sophie Ebrard which involved shooting mini projects around London. Through these workshops I was given the opportunity to take on a 'young ambassador’ role and shoot a project for them.

Our course tutors made it clear of the importance of entering competitions, following their advice I entered numerous competitions and won a few awards. I was a finalist in AOP student awards 2015 and won Best in Category in the AOP Photography Awards 2015. I also was selected as Magnums in association with Lens Culture Student spotlight winner in the Magnum photography awards 2016.

How is Ravensbourne (and your chosen course) different from other universities/colleges?

People go to universities/colleges for different reasons but all hoping to leave with the right skills and knowledge to achieve their professional goals. On the digital photography course you are taught to put all of your focus and hardwork into truly achieving your goals, which I think is a valuable life experience. You are not spoon fed, you are treated like a professional from day one.

Are you in employment and, if so as what?

Since graduating from Ravensbourne I am freelancing as a documentary photographer. I was approached by BBC Three and am now working with them on a project that I am extremely passionate about.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Work hard, get involved and take on board all the advice you are given from tutors and other industry professionals. 

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