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Taking successful photographs

Photograph by Ushio Kageyama
  • Written byCarys Thomas
  • Published date12 May 2022
Photograph by Ushio Kageyama
Photograph by Ushio Kageyama

Designed to help students investigate their photography practice, the Ideas for Successful Photography Short Course is built around 14 steps which aim to inspire thought about the art of photography through taking and looking at photographs as well as reviewing and discussing them. Students are encouraged to question their photography practice in order to develop a critical sensibility of how and why we take photographs.

To find out more about this creative course we caught up with some former students and asked them to share some of the brilliant work that was produced on this week-long course at Central Saint Martins. Learn more about the Ideas for Successful Photography Short Course.

If you’re looking to develop your photography practice, you may also be interested in our guide on how to improve your photography skills.

The course was really valuable to me in showing how to put more of 'me' into my pictures so that they convey more of my response to a situation rather than just recording the situation itself.

— Jeremy Henderson, Short Course Student

Broadening horizons

Group discussions and evaluations play an important part in the Ideas for Successful Photography Short Course. Students are encouraged to share their work with others to discuss where they can improve or expand their practice. “The course is very pro-active,” says Mark Aitken, course leader, “students are encouraged to take photographs every day and present them to the group. We discuss what went well and address any mistakes that were made – it's all worth talking about.”

For Jeremy Henderson, this critical approach helped him take his existing practice to the next level. Jeremy had recently retired from a career as a scientist in the oil industry and was keen to explore how he might expand his photography portfolio. “I had been taking photographs for a number of years but I was interested in the possibility of taking this interest beyond just taking ‘pretty’ pictures,” he said. “The course was really valuable to me in showing how to put more of 'me' into my pictures so that they convey more of my response to a situation rather than just recording the situation itself.”

The collaborative environment at Central Saint Martins was also helpful to Jeremy, who found that he enjoyed sharing ideas and discussing concepts with fellow students. “The discussion of the assignments was very stimulating and I learnt masses from my fellow students,” he told us.

Photograph by Jeremy Henderson
Photograph by Jeremy Henderson

Learning from the masters

Students on this 5-day course are invited to discuss and evaluate the work of influential photographers to inform and inspire their own approach. This is something that Ushio Kageyama, another former student, found particularly useful. “Our tutor Mark has a very rich experience and practical knowledge of the industry,” she said, “under his methodical leadership we appreciated and analysed the works of well-known photographers, and then explored our own styles of photography with different themes.”

The course also includes a visit to a London gallery with a talk by an expert curator so that students have the chance to make the most of the course’s campus location. “Although this course is fairly short – five days – I feel I have gained important insight,” says Ushio.

Ushio, a part-time photographer from Taiwan, has always had a passion for photography and recalls receiving her first camera as a present while at university. “My photography journey started with a camera which my Grandmother gave me during my first year at university. I used it to record images of derelict buildings and architecture. They were not only man-made objects in the process of decaying, but also represented the local context which I found fascinating. I later decided to focus on capturing brief and fleeting moments on camera, moving from forgotten buildings to unnoticed objects. I currently remain hidden within London, stealthily recording the present moments in life in a low-key manner.”

Take a look at Ushio’s photography work by following her on Instagram.

Photograph by Ushio Kageyama
Photograph by Ushio Kageyama

New perspectives

Students should leave this course with new perspectives and ways of approaching their photography practice. “The content of the course is not just about photography skills,” says Ushio, “it is also about learning the necessary skills to promote your work to the wider public. We analysed the work of ourselves and other students - learning from each other by explaining and giving feedback to each other (rather than simply sitting back and listening to the teacher). Students came from many places across the world and this helped generate new ideas by gaining insight from everyone's different perspectives and working styles. This is what I found very valuable.”

Both Jeremy and Ushio feel they left the course with a clear sense of direction and focus on how to develop their photography practice. For Jeremy, this resulted in a sense of purpose in terms of the next steps, “I now have a clear view of the next steps I need to take to advance my practice”, he says.

Jeremy currently documents his work on Instagram, and you can also find out more about his photography through his website.

Photograph by Ushio Kageyama
Photograph by Ushio Kageyama

Inspired to pick up your camera? Why not take a look at our full range of photography courses? We offer short courses on everything from documentary and portrait photography to fashion and editorial.

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