I wanted to study at Portsmouth because of its beautiful location and vibrant art community. The decision was made when I met the lecturers at my interview; I could see how excited they were about the course, and I instantly knew it was right for me.

One of the highlights of this course was the opportunity to run workshops for photography GCSE students in local schools in a small team of students for ten weeks. When I started, I asked who wanted to pursue photography at college and one person put their hand up. By the end of the ten weeks, at least ten hands went up for the same question! It was such a rewarding experience and helped me realise how much I loved teaching. 

Another highlight of this course would be the crits, where we put our work on the walls and are critiqued by the tutors and fellow students. I had worked really hard and was so proud of a project I had done and it paid off. I felt so confident when talking about the work; it was the first time I voiced that I was a female artist and really believed it. Another student pointed out that they'd been watching how hard I was working, and they were really proud of what I'd achieved. I never felt so supported, and I think it was that moment that I realised where I wanted to be as an artist and I was on my way to doing so.

I took a placement year between my second and third year with Liberty Photography and its sister company, Dimples & Daisies Photography. I was introduced to them in my first year when I had three weeks work experience as a summer intern, going on to work for them part-time during my second year before the full time placement. I was promoted as their Creative Director in 2019. My job role included photographing women, children, newborns and families; editing galleries; creating and managing websites/social media; inventing new shoots; and styling new clients. 

There are too many highlights to count, but one that always sticks in my head is a shoot I did at the beginning of my placement. We had about 40 women on a hill at sunset, who'd been sat sharing and storytelling for hours. Just as the sun began to set, they all ran along the hill naked and holding hands, shouting that they were strong and beautiful. About 10 minutes later, I saw this woman standing there naked with her child in her arms. She was softly telling this little girl that this was what we were fighting for, and that she hoped she would grow up in a world where there was no doubt or fear, where she would love herself and be supported by every woman she met. It was one of the moments that remind you how incredible people can be, and what we're fighting for as women, and as artists.

My final major project is about creating for the sake of creating and celebrating the often neglected joy of creativity. Through releasing myself from any boundaries or expectations surrounding making art, I discovered a place for myself within it. Amongst the madness and obsession of repeated self-portraiture, the work stands to represent that feeling of being alive and excited because of creating; a feeling that we often lose growing up, and a feeling that, through this work, I hope to reignite in some that see it.

Aurora way self portrait

What this course taught me is that anything you want to be, and anything you want to do, is possible. You just have to be able to back yourself up on it.

Aurora Way, BA (Hons) Photography 2021 graduate

The lecturers have always pushed us to do what makes us happy and excited. My work experience taught me to be playful when it comes to art. With the combination of the two, I realised that there are no boundaries in art at all. That's been the most incredible realisation and has impacted my work massively. I feel confident in researching and limitless in experimenting: two essential parts for every major university project.

My degree gave me the opportunity to get a job, and I'll be working full-time as the Creative Director for Liberty Photography. The qualification has given me the skills to progress further in this career, and to continue growing the amazing business I'm lucky to be part of. The qualification will aid me as I work to become an artist, having equipped me with the knowledge to create photo books, apply to galleries/exhibitions, and print my work to gallery standards. 

What I learnt during the course will allow me to contextualise my work, giving it a better chance at succeeding in a professional capacity. The qualification will also allow me access to higher education, and I'm hoping to return for my MA in a few years.

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