Keep At It

By Juliette Perry

MyPhotoSchool student Ann Carter on the benefits of keeping on, keeping on

So why did you decide to do a My Photo School course?

I think it coincided with buying a more advanced digital SLR camera – I couldn’t see the point in having a quality camera and staying on the Auto settings. I wanted to learn how to get the best out of the camera, and the big attraction was getting some feedback on my photos from an expert.

Was this the first time you had signed up for online learning?

Yes, I hadn’t signed up for online learning for anything else. My Photo School seemed like a really good option as you can be involved from home, without having to travel to do a workshop.

How did you find interacting with the tutors and the level of the courses?

I found the sessions very useful. They were all well presented and well illustrated, while all the tutors have been friendly, supportive and flexible. In the beginning I became very frustrated with making the most of the technology. I always looked forward to the following week, when the next ‘online module’ would appear.

Have you tried other ways of learning?

I have a lot of photography books, which have all been useful at different stages so they have a role to play. However, the content in books tends to overlap and can be quite general. If you don’t understand something, there is no way of clarifying it, whereas with My Photo School, you can have direct interaction with your tutor. One of the problems with magazines is that they have to serve a very wide target group, so they are only of general interest, and I often find them a let down. I have attempted to join two camera clubs, but I think they need to learn how to treat newcomers (although the speakers at both were excellent). I’ve not given up on camera clubs, however; I am moving house soon, so I will give it another go.

Have you entered any competitions or given any talks or exhibitions?

I haven’t done any competitions – these tend to come with camera clubs – but I have given some talks on various aspects of photography to the local U3A group, which have been well received.

What tips do you have for other students who are thinking of signing up?

Do your best to keep pace with the course schedule (though I have found tutors to be very flexible if your submission is going to be late). The assignments can be quite challenging, so it is worthwhile spending time on the summary you send to your tutor. That way, you think through your perception of the photo before you get your tutor’s feedback. Do read the feedback on your classmates photos, and know that it is OK for you to comment on them too. Finally, save your MPS sessions and after a year look back at them to see how much you have progressed.

What are your future plans when it comes to photography?

I’ve joined the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) and I intend to do the basic level of distinction this year. I’ve also started to print some of my photos, which is a whole new ball game.

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