Graduate News: Jacob King
1st May 2020
Former graduate and Press Association photographer Jake, shares his experiences of the course, and what he has been doing since graduating.
When did you graduate?
I graduated from the course in 2016.
What made you decide to join onto the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography course at UoG ahead of other offers?
I wanted to be somewhere where I could learn about the history and development of documentary photography, but also a place where I felt I would have the best chance of learning and implementing how to be a working photojournalist as soon as I had my degree. The course seemed to offer both from the outset. I had been for interviews in London and Newport but eventually preferred the facilities at Hardwick and had a great interview in Cheltenham. As a ‘mature’ student of 22 to have that initial relaxed conversation was important.
What was the best thing about your time on the course?
Meeting other young photographers is great. Being a press photographer can be a solitary existence, so learning alongside others is a great benefit before going out to the world of work. The students on the course become friends and in a loose way, colleagues. I personally gained a lot from the visiting guest speakers, those lectures along with one on one tutorship stay with me more than the practical classes do, and at UOG we had some great highlights. Tom Pilston sticks out in my mind for his inspiring and candid talk about life as a working photojournalist, and Peter Mitchell’s lecture was remarkable and hilarious. The speakers showed us the broad possibilities a degree in photography can offer.
How were you able to use the skills learnt on the course after you left and started working?
The skills I learned on the course even during the first year still come in handy. For instance you can’t underestimate the importance of balancing flash with ambient light as a news photographer, we did this with Andy in first year amongst other things during one of the very first modules of the course, and I still remember it. It may seem rudimentary, but understanding why an aperture works in a certain situation and why a focal length is needed for a particular job, are all little questions I still have mentally day to day. The course throughout the 3 years helped build my practical skills, theoretical analysis as well as planning to confidently pursue a career.
How did the course prepare you for working as a photographer?
The course helped in many ways; from technical ability to theoretical analysis of photography. Part of a module in our final year studies we gained work experience and devised our own social media presence, which is important as a photographer starting now. There will be thousands of assignments and commissions granted through reaching out on social media, connectivity is the least of our problems as photographers now. Most importantly though I had a degree and a small body of work I was proud of and confident in discussing with others, this helped after studies had ended. I was able to get work into small online publications and graduate exhibitions that furthered my confidence and determination to be a working photographer.
What have you been working on since you left University?
It is important to note I didn’t get to where I wanted to be immediately after graduating. Before I joined a news agency in Manchester it was a frustrating 12 months after finishing university. In that time I tried as hard as possible to get my work seen as well while also developing my work and revisiting projects I had already started. The work I had made during university afforded me great opportunities in this time, so don’t underestimate the importance of that final project. I was granted a place on a NOOR workshop alongside World Press Photo winners and had portfolio reviews with Sebastian Liste, Tanya Habjouqa and Robin Hammond, which was a valuable experience. In 2017, after a few bits of PR work and a couple of weddings I did begin working as a news photographer and haven’t looked back. Last year I joined the Press Association as a staff news photographer. I have covered elections, premier league football, royal visits, overseas assignments, floods, wildfires, and everything in-between.
What is the most exciting thing you have done since leaving?
In the past year I have covered assignments across the world; including a conservation story in Alaska, jobs with the Ministry of Defence in Cyprus, as well as covering a Vice Presidential visit to Ireland. Working as a photojournalist is extremely rewarding, it is the variety of the work that makes it so.
Would you recommend the Photojournalism and Documentary course and if so why?
I would recommend the course to anyone who wants a career in photography, whether that means behind the camera or not. My general goal from the beginning was to be a working news photographer, it is important to note that everybody on the course may want a seperate goal, and the course facilitates that. The course delivers a strong theoretical programme that encourages critical thinking which was great, and offers other avenues whether that be a masters degree and a future in teaching or whatever. Personally the course has definitely helped me get to where I want to be at this stage of my career.
What advice would you give to students currently on the course?
Enjoy it and shoot what you’re interested in, shoot lots and use this time to make little mistakes and develop, while keeping an eye on the news around you. Bounce ideas and frames amongst your peer group and tutors as much as possible. Every news picture is an edit, a process between photographer and editor, so express yourself as much as possible in those three years; it is a great period to shoot without professional pressures, so go for it. Get in the habit of seeing your tutors as the friendliest and most helpful photo editors you will have in your career.
Website – www,jacobkingphoto.com
Instagram – jacobkingphoto
Twitter – @jacobkingphoto