Everyone wants to take a great photo – but it’s those who are pursuing it professionally that know exactly how much work goes into getting an iconic shot.
Award-winning photographer and UCOL's Senior Lecturer Photography, Ian Rotherham, has seen first-hand how the right training opens up a world of opportunities. However, high level photography courses have been decreasing throughout New Zealand, with UCOL now one of only three institutions in the country teaching a two year Level 5 and 6 photography diploma programme.
So what’s kept UCOL's photography course thriving? “One of the big advantages for us is that our photography is completely digital – in fact we’re the first institute to go completely digital in all of Australasia,” says Rotherham.
"We've put in a lot of time into researching and investigating the different approaches adopted by world-famous schools of photography. Many of our learning methods are inspired by well-known photo schools including School of Visual Arts (New York), Parsons School of Design (New York), and Brooks Institute (California). We want to offer students an internationally viable course."
Photography is a volatile and creative field, where technology, tastes, and trends change on a near-daily basis. Maintaining strong associations with the industry helps UCOL remain a step ahead. "We stay closely connected with the industry's giants, including Advertising and Illustrative Photographers Association (AIPA) and New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP). Our student talent pipeline is bursting to the limits and we want to give them the best of all worlds," says Rotherham.
NZIPP Iris Award Winning Photograph by UCOL Alumni Rebecca Hatcher
It shows - UCOL learners consistently year after year have swept up highly regarded national photography awards, including Iris Professional Photography Awards and the national Canon EYEcon awards. "When you focus on student success, it’s not a surprise when they succeed. There are a lot of elements involved when you’re building a solid foundation for good photographic teaching – from digital understanding to research and collaboration. We have designed our learning methods to suit our students, not the other way around."
So Rotherham’s not surprised that UCOL has students from all over New Zealand enrolled for their latest course. NZIPP Award winner and recent UCOL alumni, Rebecca Hatcher, says, “UCOL’s guidance is something that showed me just how incredible my photography can be.”
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. Not only that but the facilities I had available were amazing. The gear I had available to me left me without any excuses to get what I wanted done.”
Product photography by UCOL Alumni Rebecca Hatcher
Talking about how UCOL prepared her for the real world, Rebecca adds, “In Level 6, our final major project gives us a chance to meet with clients and build our portfolios. Building our skills to interact with clients is something that you can only practise, so being able to do that was very valuable and having a finished portfolio to take with us into our future to show to potential clients is super useful.”
"At UCOL, we really just want what's best for the students - to help them explore their unique voice and turn it into a successful creative practice," sums up Rotherham.