Graduate Feature on Food Photographer Emma Boyns
8th July 2019
This is the first in a series of Editorial and Advertising Graduate Features. Food Photographer Emma Boyns, who graduated in 2015, answers questions about her time on the Editorial Advertising Photography course, how the course helped her practice to develop and what she has been working on since graduation.
Why did you decide to come onto the course?
Photography was always something I’d enjoyed as a hobby and I started considering it as more of a career towards the end of my A levels. I went to a few University Open Days and the variation in photographic genre that was encouraged during studies and evidenced by past graduates on this particular course really appealed to me, as I wasn’t 100% sure which area of photography I was headed for. I also liked how the course aimed to prepare you to become a professional photographer and make a living out of it, as other courses I’d considered didn’t really touch upon the practicalities of making a sustainable career in this field.
What did you like about the course?
I found the structure of the course helpful in terms of balancing lectures/time on campus time with free time to work and develop our own personal portfolio and style, as well as the range of areas taught, from retouching and use of industry-relevant software, through to the workings of medium format cameras and writing about photographic theory. I liked the chance to collaborate with fellow creatives within the University, as well as gaining advice on how to network in the larger industry. Having access to the studio and kit facilities were also a huge advantage, as were the opportunities to take trips abroad with the course.
Were you able to draw on the transferable skills learnt on the course when you left and started working?
Yes! Having knowledge of software like CaptureOne and Photoshop is a huge advantage when shooting and assisting, and learning the legality around my own practice has helped me to protect my work. I chose to specialise in food photography however the structure of the course taught me skills that are flexible and transferable across all genres.
Has the course prepared you for working within the creative industries?
Yes, it has. I have a good knowledge of how to collaborate and create a strong shoot team, as well as being able to work with a range of kit and software. I also learned the importance of a strong website which is something that potential clients regularly see and base their opinion of my work on. The formalities of invoicing clients, etc. that I learnt on the course is extremely useful for my freelance work, and I have gained regular clients based on the portfolio that I created during my time on the course. Confidence in your own work is a huge part of working in the creative industries, and mine grew considerably throughout my degree, thanks to the lecturers’ support and encouragement.
What have you been working on since you left University?
To begin with I shot a lot of personal work so I had a really strong portfolio, and some of these photos made it to the final of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year Awards. The exposure I gained from having my photos exhibited as part of this award led me to be commissioned to shoot Deliveroo’s online ad campaign.
In 2017 I won the BBC Good Food Fresh Talent category of the same award. Part of the prize was a 6-month contract as BBC Good Food’s House Photographer, which was extended to 18 months and involved me working across the magazine, website and social media platforms to create still and moving image content for the brand. I was honoured to shoot the cover of the UK’s biggest selling food magazine in May 2018!
I’m fairly new to freelancing and am currently shooting mostly for restaurants and catering companies, and I really enjoy the buzz of the kitchen and restaurant environment. I’m continuing to work on personal projects and I’ve created several short documentary films to work alongside my photography and writing. I’d still like to assist more as the variety of knowledge you gain really is invaluable.
Would you recommend the Editorial and Advertising Photography course and if so why?
I’d definitely recommend the course. I went in having no formal photographic training or qualifications, and not really sure of a direction I wanted to head in. Three years later I graduated with a portfolio of work I was really proud of and a huge amount of knowledge surrounding both my own specialism and photography in general. While studying I developed a sense of my professional self and feel lucky to have been introduced to areas like moving image and food photography, which I simply wouldn’t have considered without the course modules and support from the lecturers.