Point, shoot, connect
Making art can be a solitary endeavour – for photographers, it’s an interaction that often occurs solely between artist and camera. But, as a group of UTS students discovered this year, being a photographer also means being part of a global ecosystem where creativity and commerce collide.
In February 2019, students from the Bachelor of Design in Photography spent two weeks in California, one of the shining lights of the international photography scene. The trip was part of a Global Studio subject devised and led by UTS Photography academic Benjamin Chadbond, in partnership with both the California College of the Arts (CCA) and Pier 24 Photography, the largest photography-only museum in the world.
The students travelled to both San Francisco and Los Angeles where they met with world-renowned photography figures, including artists Todd Hido, Torbjørn Rødland, Mike Slack, Erica Deeman, John Chiara and Janna Ireland, and curators Charlotte Cotton, Chris McCall (Pier 24 Photography) and Eve Schillo (LACMA). They also visited many of the leading galleries and studios that have made California a hub of photography industry activity.
“The aim was to expose them to the breadth of photography on an international scale,” says Chadbond.
“It’s an opportunity for them to really live and breathe the work that they’re making for two weeks, to give themselves the space to be able to do that in another place and in another situation outside Australia.”
As well as undertaking high-profile site visits, the students engaged with their own creative practice, working on collaborative projects with their CCA peers. These projects, which made up the assessment component of the Global Studio, required them to make work that reflected the rich photographic history of their new environment, as well as the challenges and opportunities of being constantly on the move.
For Hamish McIntosh, a third-year student in the Bachelor of Design in Photography, being at the epicentre of California’s photography scene was an eye-opening experience.
“America, and California especially, has a very rich and long history of photography, and that’s reflected in the institutions they have over there and the depth of people’s practice, he says.
"I think being exposed to that and being able to experience first-hand what a really thriving and deep-rooted industry and community looks like was one of the biggest things to come out of the experience for me."
“Meeting with artists and going to where they work and talking to them and seeing how they run their practice and their career – I don’t think that’s something you can really teach.”
Giving students a sense of the broader photography industry was a critically important part of the studio experience. The trip encouraged them to look at their futures through a broader lens – fine arts careers remain highly competitive, but a photography qualification also holds value in related fields like advertising, curation, marketing, publishing, journalism and media production.
Third-year student Georgia Akle discovered fairly early in her degree that her passion for photography didn’t necessarily equate to a future as an artist. Instead, she says, she plans to apply the skills she’s gained to a career in advertising, with the longer-term goal of opening her own gallery and supporting other photographers to achieve their creative potential – aspirations that were further strengthened by the Global Studio experience.
“The studio and the degree itself have given us a lot of resources in terms of access to different photographers and curators, and learning how a gallery runs,” she says.
“Just having a general interest in the fine arts can open up so many doors for you in terms of your career.”
The Global Studio subject is just one example of the industry opportunities available for photography students at UTS. Among others, the annual Photography Guest Lecture Series, held every autumn, brings students face-to-face with leading industry practitioners, while the Professional Practice subject connects them with internships in art or photography-focused practitioners or organisations.
An exhibition of UTS & CCA student work from the Global Studio will go on display at Sun Studios, Alexandria from the July 18 until August 1, 2019. The students would like to invite you to the opening event from 6–8pm on Thursday July 18, 2019.
Learn more about the UTS Bachelor of Design in Photography.