PCA students enjoy one-2-one portfolio reviews with top industry professionals

Following the talks at our recent industry symposium in London, a number of PCA students benefitted from the unique opportunity of one-2-one portfolio reviews with the industry guests.

Professional portfolio critique is an integral part of our programme with students undertaking reviews as part of their Professional Practice modules. In addition to  industry and creative advice, the reviews also provide a unique networking opportunity, with many students coming away with valuable contacts, often leading to work placement and assisting opportunities.

Industry Symposium attracts award-winning photographers and photographic professionals to talk to PCA students

Our Annual Symposium in London is a key initiative in our commercial photographic curriculum, providing a unique opportunity for students to expand their understanding of the business of photography. With presentations and seminar discussions from a range of practitioners, agents and other industry professionals, our students gain invaluable insight into various areas of the industry, gaining an understanding of the career possibilities available to them and the knowledge, skills and attributes required to succeed.

Our 2017 Symposium was held at Camden Park Studios, working home of the legendary advertising photographer Ray Massey. Speakers included:

Rachell Smith      
Fashion, Beauty & Portrait Photographer, whose work has been published in Glamour Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure and Vogue.it.

Owen Harvey
Award-winning editorial Photographer. Owen’s recent clients include Time, GQ, the BBC, Fred Perry and Sony Music but it’s his personal series on British youth subculture that has defined his career, earning a place in the prestigious Taylor Wessing portrait prize

Philip Haynes
Sports & Portrait Advertising Photographer whose clients include Adidas, Puma, Speedo, O2, BMW, Carlsberg and the Sunday Times Magazine

David Ellis
Photographer and filmmaker of choice for some of the most iconic brands and magazines in the world. Clients include: Virgin Media, Vodafone, Jaguar,  Sky, Nike, Warner Bros, Smirnoff, Channel 4, and Universal music,

Niall Horton Stephens
Founder of Horton Stephens, the London Photography Agents who represent some of the world’s most notable commercial advertising photographers

Sarah Williams
Head of Art Buying at M&C Saatchi, Creative Consultant & Art Buyer


Editorial Street Portraiture Workshop in East London With Award-winning Photographer Peter Zelewski

On day four of our week-long London trip,  we wanted to capitalise on the diversity of London and put together a street portraiture workshop. With this in mind, we knew we wanted to get a top London street portrait photographer to be a part of it and we were incredibly lucky to secure award-winning street photographer, Peter Zelewski, to jump on board with us.

Peter is a London based portrait and documentary photographer. Born in Detroit, USA he moved to London in the 1980s and studied at the London College of Communication (LCC). Through his fascination of people and love of the city, he was drawn to the streets of London to take photographs of its citizens which has resulted in two award-winning projects ’People of Soho’ and ‘Beautiful Strangers’. His work has been featured in The Guardian,  British Journal of Photography, Esquire, La Repubblica, Huck, Leica Fotografie International (LFI), Time Out, Stylist, We Heart, and Eurostar Metropolitan. In 2015 he was awarded third prize in the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London and has recently published his first book ‘People of London’.

The day started in Holborn, where Peter met us along with twenty-two of our students, in our hotel’s lobby. Loaded up with Quadra kits, Nikons and Canons, reflectors and sun bounces, we ventured towards Spitalfields in East london as our starting point. Peter gave our students a fantastic pep talk before the students set off in small groups, to different areas of East London. We all spent the day meeting and shooting interesting characters, building up students confidence in approaching strangers, and understanding the complexities of managing composition/ balancing of ambient/ flash lighting in a busy, uncontrolled environment. Luckily, Peter covered many miles of East London to make sure he had time to work one on one with each of the groups, giving them advice on all aspects of street photography.

The Plymouth Posse

One of our groups even got to meet and shoot the renowned artist ‘George’ of ‘Gilbert and George’, as well as the singer Mnek, who is currently number two in the singles charts!

After a fantastic, busy day of walking, shooting, and talking, we all headed back to our hotel’s lobby where students immediately uploaded the images they had taken, whilst Peter supervised and gave feedback to all the students about their work. Peter gave us some great feedback about the student’s potential, and we plan to print a special edition of the best images from the workshop.

We interviewed Peter at the end of the day, here’s what he had to say about his experience of working with PCA students

Special thanks to year 3 students Harrison Abbot and James Will Jones for their work shooting and editing our video footage during our London Trip

Students enjoy Masterclass lighting workshop with top advertising photographer, Ray Massey

During our recent curriculum visit to London, PC students had the opportunity to see a true master at work.

Ray Massey has been a photographer for over 25 year and is known for his skill when photographing liquid and controlling light. As part of the student experience Ray kindly offered to extend their knowledge by sharing his talents for the day. A selection of our students had the opportunity to observe Ray at work, witnessing the construction of a still life shoot from start to finish. Ray kindly demonstrated his workflow, from building up his lighting, the formalities of working with liquids and the precise nature of freezing moving water to achieve a perfect result. Most of Ray’s photography is shot in camera, using post-production to enhance and refine these elements.

Ray worked with two different set ups during our visit, the first he used a large purpose built basin, filled with just right amount of water, then added a water bottle at the exact moment, to achieve the combination of moving liquid, splash and the bottle frozen in time. In the second setup Ray used a water filled tank, with coloured gels to capture bubbles and water movements.

Shooting tethered on a Hasselblad with a P45 back, Ray was able to obtain maximum detail and actuary. Ray worked collaboratively with his digital assistant Jem, who added to the wealth and knowledge that the students gained throughout the day.

Our students had the opportunity to assist with the shoot, view a real life-working studio and watch a digital assistant realise the final result. What a fantastic, informative and enjoyable day. Ray was extremely kind to invite the PCA Commercial Photography students into his studio and share his wealth of knowledge and skill.

See Ray’s work at Raymassey.com

Students enjoy a visit to Metro Imaging


As part of our annual curriculum visit to London last week, a group of our students enjoyed a visit to Metro Imaging, London’s premier retouching, printing, mounting and framing company, with clients that include Rankin, Mario Testino and David Bailey.

Extra special this year was the tour from PCA Graduate Jon Hazell (2nd from the left), who graduated from Plymouth College of Art in June and started working at Metro soon after. Big thanks to Jon and Metro for providing our students with such a valuable insight into the business. We look forward to continuing to work with Metro in the future.

Kick-Started into Action

The new academic year at Plymouth College of Art always gets off to a flying start. After the long summer recess we like to shake things up and throw our returning students into a short and intensive challenge. The ‘Kick-Start’ project as it has become known, puts our 2nd and 3rd years together to respond to a series of live client briefs. Various local businesses provide products and advertising briefs and our students work together throughout the week to plan, organise, style and deliver a series of visual responses.

The short intensive project mirrors the typically fast turnaround needed in commercial photographic assignments. Students learn how to work and negotiate with clients, develop creative responses to briefs, and manage roles within their creative teams to deliver commercial quality photographic work.

This year saw our students photographing for Rock the Frock Bridal Wear, Gamble & Gunn Hats, Croyde Sea Glass,  and The Column Bakehouse. Thanks to the clients who supported the project, and pats on the back for our students who produced some outstanding work.