Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

Alecsandra in blue dress against white wall, looking to the side

Alecsandra's story

Photography

Ever since I was a child, I remember having a camera with me. I would look at the photos in the newspapers and, inspired by these, shoot everything around me.

By the time I left school, I decided that it was time to take my photography seriously, and for me, that meant leaving my home in Romania and travelling to university. With its rich history of art and magazines and photojournalism, the UK felt like the obvious choice.

I was only 18 and a long way from home, so I decided I didn’t want to go straight to London. I thought I’d get lost in the madness. Yes, I wanted a city that had everything going on, but I also wanted somewhere with a sense of community, where I wouldn’t just get swept up.

I’m so happy that my lecturers gave me that nudge because in one of those competitions I won an internship at the Guardian newspaper.

Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

Alumna, Photography

Alecsandra walking up steps with a crowd of people behind

A lot of people say that if you want to be a creative then London is the only place to be. That was not my experience. Portsmouth is an amazing place to develop your art. Right away I found an international cafe in the heart of the city where people from all over the world would meet and share their passions, and I made interesting new friends right away. I even got a house on the beach which was a completely new experience to me. You definitely can’t do that in London!

Of course, what I was really in Portsmouth to do was study, and my photography improved so much during my time here. The lecturers had so much experience and from them I learned discipline and how to find my own style.

Two people setting up an outdoor photography shoot with subject cross-legged on ground

Portsmouth is an amazing place to develop your art.

Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

Alumna, Photography

At first, my photography tried a bit of everything, but they could see what I was trying to achieve and would show where in my work I needed to tighten this idea or hone that style. Consequently, my portfolio grew and grew and it gave me the confidence to enter competitions to promote my work.

I’m so happy that my lecturers gave me that nudge because in one of those competitions I won an internship at the Guardian newspaper.

That experience has meant everything to me, as after the internship ended they kept giving me freelance assignments and it completely kick-started my career. I built my name and my portfolio a little more, and now I’m shooting for the likes of National Geographic and loads of interesting clients.

On top of that, I’m even running photography courses now, and when I bump into my old lecturers they’re always ready and willing to give me guidance on teaching. It’s all come full circle.