Leah has always been passionate about a career in the creative industries. As a child she would happily snap scenery alongside her family with hopes of being a photographer. Since studying at Banbury and Bicester College, Leah has perfected her photography and now feels confident and prepared to move directly into industry on completion of her studies. It looks like those childhood dreams are set to come true.
“I was really interested in art anyway and photography especially, as I’m more of a creative than academic person. I was always way better at art and design than say, maths or English. Plus, college is way more of a relaxed environment than sixth form and I don’t have any plans to go to university, I just want to get my qualifications here and do my own thing with my photography.
“I plan to go straight into industry, and I feel like this course has prepared me to do that. People here are all in it together, no one’s horrible here, everyone is so friendly and it's just a really good environment to work in. You learn lots of different skills on numerous platforms, so I feel like the course has properly set me up for the future. Even before, I did photography but never looked into the settings on the camera and how to use things like exposure for example."
It's clear that Leah has learnt a lot since her time at college and is now confident to tackle the creative industries on completion of her studies. She admits that she's been challenged during her time at college but with the support of her teachers and friends, she feels ready to go it alone.
“You still need to do your research and know your stuff but there’s not so much pressure on you to get it done perfectly. People help, there’s a lot of help here and it’s such a good environment to work in, I really love it.
“All the teachers are lovely; I don’t dislike any of them. They are so supportive, and they want to help you. So, if I was struggling with anything, they’d give me all my options, help me through them, check up on me just to see how I am but they’re not on my back all the time. They are co-operative with you but they’re not going to pressure you or keep on at you like a teacher at school would. They are way more friendly and it’s first names as well, it’s not Miss or Mrs."
In being able to let her creativity take her in any direction, Leah feels she has got to embrace all areas of art and design. In doing so, she feels her confidence has truly been boosted and is ready to take on the challenges ahead.
“My confidence has grown completely. I am quite a confident person anyway but it’s just such a different environment than school. I have friends at sixth form and it’s definitely not the same, like they are shocked when I tell them that we get to do what we want creatively.
“I think with this course you are not just focusing on your speciality. Obviously, you do specialise, but you get to do everything else. You can dip into fashion, photography, fine art, you can dip into everything and then you specialise in what you want to do. In the first year, you’re doing a little of everything and just seeing what you’re comfortable with and what you’re good at. Then, in the second year, you can do what you want, there’s way more freedom.
“You get to explore everything, the tutors are so encouraging and it’s just so nice to be here, I love it. I’d come here every day if I could, I genuinely love college, honestly. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people blossom, like people that I knew at school are so different now and you can tell that they are now expressing themselves, they’re in nicer friendship groups and are just way more comfortable and confident."
Leah has been lucky to gain work experience within and outside of college. In working freelance, she has learnt how to meet client demands and the professionalism needed to succeed in the creative industries.
“I do photography outside of college. My mum goes to a local gym and they wanted some photos for their website. So, I went in during the classes and took photos of that. I do photography on the weekends in my free time as my dad is a heavy influence on my photography, that’s why I first started doing it. When I was seven, I was taking photos of my dad in National Trust castles. They’re the best environments to take photos in, they are relaxed and calm, and all the gardens are so beautiful."
Although Leah still has a fondness for landscape photography, her world has been opened up to many photography types and she feels confident dabbling in different scenarios and settings.
“Before coming to college, I used to just like taking landscape photos such as a nice sunset or a river, or something like that. Now that I’ve been able to use the facilities here and being able to go into the studios, using the lights and the nice cameras, I really like taking pictures of people.
“I used to only like a certain type of photography but now I feel that if I was thrown into any sort of situation where I had to take photos I feel like I’d be able to handle it quite well because here, you just expand your knowledge way more."
She commends Banbury and Bicester College for its welcoming and supportive environment and has met so many friendly and creative people during her studies.
“There’s no bullying here, I have never seen any of that here. Everyone is so together, and they want the best for everyone, students and mentors. It’s completely different. If you don’t like overly academic environments, college is the place to be. It’s so relaxed, so chilled but you do get things done and you get to do what you want to do."