A Q&A with a Photographer and Videographer

Photographer and Videographer
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Ever wondered what it would be like to be a full-time photographer and videographer and how to become one? Take a look at how OWI can make your dreams come true.

Sometimes it seems like everyone is dabbling in the art of photography and videography. Anyone with a camera can be seen taking on hilarious poses to capture the perfect picture. Let’s face it, we love capturing our happy, sad, victorious moments and every other too. They make for great profile pictures and albums on Facebook.

But it takes that one special person with a certain knack for capturing moments to leave us all in awe. One picture literally can tell a story. Just as a two minute video can leave you feeling the same as a two hour movie could. These are abilities I wish I had, unfortunately I don’t which makes me even more appreciative of the talent around me.

A Q&A with Photographer and Videographer Tamaryn Ried

As with most careers, getting a decent degree kick starts your career in pretty impressive ways. This was definitely the case with Open Window Institute graduate Tamaryn Rird. She studied the BA Visual Communications degree with a dual specialization in Photography and Film. We chatted to her a bit about how she experienced studying her degree at OWI and how her studies prepared her for life after varsity.

She took Mathematics, Physical Science, Accounting and Art at school in order to keep her study options open and to still enjoy her creative side with Art. She continually added to her portfolio so that when application time came, she was fully prepared to show OWI her best work.

What is the focus of your qualification? How did it prepare you for future careers in your field?
I double majored in Photography and Film. Photography was a lot of practical work which prepared me to go straight into freelancing. We could choose our specialities and work on the fields of our choice as well as basic’s to all disciplines of photography. The feedback from the photographer lecturers was based on the amount of work you put into the projects. This prepared me to take criticism, to plan and propose shoot ideas and complete full photography projects on my own. I also left with a full portfolio to show prospective employers and clients. I found that no one wanted to see my qualification, everything was based on what they saw in my portfolio and my practical work. And when the few who knew about the Open Window Institute heard I studied there, they were more than excited to hear that I studied at such an accomplished varsity.

Film was an incredible focus to have, not only did it teach us the basics of film such as shooting, editing, planning, script writing, acting, casting, sound, post production but it taught you how to see, as well as how to notice life and depictions of life around us through others’ films. Leaving film I would have been able to apply for any position in the film industry, I had created my own advert, short film, conceptual film and philosophical film. This was a great start off portfolio which was essential to applying for jobs. What were the top 5 skills you learnt through your course?

What were the top 5 skills you learned through your course?

  • I learnt how to keep learning and keep growing.
  • DSLR Camera Skills – How to operate my camera and studio lights.
  • Visual Communication – The messages that any artwork/design/photograph carries, and how to see the message that you have sent. This is vitally important as I work for myself – knowing if the objectives of a project was met or failed is one of the best things I could have learnt.
  • Adobe Software + 3ds Max – Learning the practical side of these programmes was so vital to all that we did, and more importantly the ability to self-learn any other program thereafter.
  • How to take criticism – In a field where any viewer is going to judge your work you need to be prepared for the opinions that come with it – the good and the bad.

How was the workload, and the ration of academic and practical work? Did you face any challenges or successes during your studies?
The Open Window Institute expects a TON of hard work. All the skills learnt take time – many many hours of drawing, redrawing, creating, planning and thinking. Late nights and long weekends. Do NOT be fooled that an artistic choice of field will be easy.

While the class time is short it is the practical work that you do that takes the biggest portion of your time and the crit classes which is the most important. Because it is only through doing that you can learn more. Academically, there were essays, reading and learning to be done to strengthen the practical side. But there is also the psychology of art and design- how people read things visually, the history of how it has been done in the past etc. We were also involved in many ‘real’ projects that helped with future employment and industry standards. A lot of the lecturers were also successful members of the industry which was a huge benefit for translating studies into career opportunities.

I faced many time constraints and battled to keep up with the work load. However I did receive the Fuji film Student of the year for my photography portfolio as well as winning my film advert / public service announcement for Pretoria Zoo which was aired in cinema’s across the country. This was enormously beneficial  to me finding clients when I started my own freelancing business.

What kind of careers can someone with this degree go into?
Freelancing, in-house photographers, camera operators, directors, sound engineering, producers, artists, designers, creative directors and more.

What kind of salary can someone expect from those kind of careers, or in case of freelance rates, at what do they currently average?
It is quite wide in terms of salary and what you do with your skills. Playing it safe can get you a salary of 5-10K a month in design.

I currently charge R950p/h for my Photography freelance work: which includes editing. My new business ,which incorporates a lot of the skills I learnt from Open Window, has drastically increased my income as I made R500k+ turn over in the last month. It is not about what you have learnt but what you are able to do with it.

To what extent did you feel prepared to enter the working world in your field?
As I worked extremely hard on my portfolio while studying and was able to generate a great body of work. I started freelancing in my final year of studying. This prepared me to start my freelance business immediately after studying. I often wish that I had interned for a larger company as I may have learnt more.

Did you have a specific career in mind for after graduation?
I always wanted to be my own boss. So freelancing was the simple choice. I would have preferred to do more video work rather than photography but my clients were all for photography work and I have been lucky enough to have on going work from word of mouth ever since.

Do you have a current online portfolio or platform to showcase your work?
I still have the website I created at the end of my final year (part of our syllabus was to create a website). Although my work has improved hugely, I still have this same body of work online. I am currently updating it. A lot of my friends from varsity are doing amazingly well on social media. Gareth Pon is the most famous Instagram-mer in Africa and show cases his work through social media. I am just useless at the platform.

What advice do you have for students wanting to do this course or go into this profession?
Work hard from day one – everything that you create has the potential to be your body of work. The work that future employers/ clients will judge you by and you will be associated with.

Listen carefully and try hard in every subject- the more skills and knowledge you have, the better. You may hate a subject now but in the future it may help you, it may even turn into your career.

What drew you to study this course?
I was accepted for Accounting and Engineering at TUKS, however my parents strongly believed that I should do what I love and took me to a career counsellor who suggested I study information design at TUKS. At the time my brother worked at Disney Gaming UK and sat next to the creative director – so I was lucky enough to have his advice – when I sent him both options i.e. Information Design at TUKS versus Visual Communication at Open Window Institute. He strongly suggested OWI.

Are there many positions available in this field?
When I left OWI, I had 2 job offers without even looking. But as I said, I wanted to be my own boss. If you are good at what you do, there will always be many positions for you. If you are average, then prepare for an average job with an average salary.

Where do you see the future of this course/field going?
As far as I know, OWI have already expanded to Fashion Design and Interior Design as well as Game Design. I feel that they will go from strength to strength. There is no comparison when it comes to final portfolio’s and the way that OWI students are prepared when they leave.

What would you say is the best part about the job you are pursuing?
I get to make beautiful things, capture beautiful moments and much more. I get to travel and experience amazing events. I get to meet artists and other interesting people that I photograph – from the CEO of Deutsche Bank to Goldfish and R3hab. I get to learn about companies and how things are made – as to photograph something correctly you need to know about it. And I am finally in the position where I get to showcase my art, and make art for interior spaces. And best of all make a living out of it. It is extremely fulfilling.

My personal life has taken a dive due to working weekends and A LOT of over time. So I would advise that you are prepared for this.

What does your job look like and what skills did you gain from your qualification?
I photograph Events, Children, Schools, Corporates, Boudoir and Architecture – mostly by myself and occasionally with an assistant. I then edit and deliver these photos. I have also started a company called Texturize – where you can print on anything flat. We now use this to make beautiful branding and art. I have one person working with me and we design and photograph the art specifically for our clients. We are expanding rapidly and hope to employ more OWI students shortly.

I gained a wide variety of knowledge from OWI, but most importantly, they taught me to teach myself whatever I didn’t have knowledge on.

What was the biggest risk you ever took and what did you learn from it?
Starting my own business. I learnt that while being a creative is fulfilling, you need to use it to make money – a beautiful picture will not always pay for your medical aid or rent at the end of the month. I learnt that you will continue to pay the school fees of life once you have finished paying actual school fees. I learnt that a creative should not be taken advantage of and that no service should be done for free. Not even for your friends or family. I learnt that it is possible to be paid for doing what you love.

Open Window Institute (OWI)

The School of Design Studies at OWI opens up many possibilities and opportunities for aspiring designer minds. If Graphic Design is something you could see yourself doing, why not browse through their courses and see if any interest you.

EduConnect 2cents

Most people dabble in photography at some point or another. Before you commit to three years of studies – job shadow a professional and see if you like the field and if you have that special something that makes you stand out above other photographers. Either way, if it’s your passion – you’ll love what you do and be successful.

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