by Charlotte Moss Published 01/10/2015
You might have seen cosplay cropping up in the mediarecently - it's the practice of dressing up as a character froma film, book or video game. Beth Dooner made it the subjectof her final major project at university and captured theintricacies of the people in the cosplay community. Her hardwork paid off and Beth produced a vibrant portfolio thatsaw her graduate with a first-class honours degree.
'I was utterly thrilled when I found out I'd achieved a first,' Beth tells meexcitedly when I asked her how it felt to get the top degree classification.'When I first started university I thought maybe I'd get a 2:2 or a 2:1and I'd have been really happy with that. I always kept my expectationsrealistic but in the end I got a first and I really was utterly thrilled.' Ofcourse it doesn't guarantee that Beth will walk into a life as a professionalphotographer, but it does provide a great base to start looking for jobsfrom; 'People have different university experiences, so they take awaydifferent things from their time studying. It doesn't make me better thananyone who got a lower grade, but it's important to me to know in myselfthat I could achieve what I did. Even if I don't flash my grades about, itcomes through in how I present myself and my work.'
There's often a murmur that photography degrees don't teach studentsthe real-world skills required in a career as a photographer, but Beth iskeen to highlight that it wasn't all about taking pictures; 'The Editorial andAdvertising Photography programme at the University of Gloucestershirewas a really great choice for me. As well as working on photographicskills, we were also required to undertake professional practice modulestoo. Not only were we encouraged to photograph personal projects, butwe also had to undertake work experience in the field we were aimingfor.' And then of course, there was the practical side to working as aphotographer too; 'In our final year we were taught about getting ourwork into industry, and of course about writing CVs, putting togetherinvoices and estimates, and bookkeeping skills. They weren't always themost interesting lectures, but they were really useful for the future.'
Like many students who have graduated this summer Beth hasn't yetfound employment, but she's looking around and waiting for the rightopportunity. 'The plan is obviously to go into work as soon as possible.I'd like to be able to freelance comfortably, but I don't think it's an optionjust yet. Ideally I'd like to find work with a studio in Bristol because I havefriends there.' But the long-term ambition is to find a way to work withdocumentary portraiture and the geek scene. ' I love working with peopleand I really enjoy photographing the person rather than what they'rewearing. I'd also like to develop people's understanding of the geek sceneand remove some of the stigma that can be attached to it. I think my stylesuits it - I enjoy shooting bright, colourful images and showing peoplein a positive light, and I really do try to have a very feel-good aspect tomy images.'
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