Shooting Fashion with freelance commercial photographer, Margo R

Whilst two thirds of our students headed off to London for our annual photography symposium in March this year, back here at the college of art, we decided to put on a jam-packed enrichment week to keep those left behind excited and busy! To compliment our 1st years fashion photography module, we decided to ask one of our alumni, Margo R, to help plan and devise a week based around her kind of fashion work. Margo photographs fashion, bridal and branding in both the South West and internationally. Her resume includes South West Wedding Awards Finalist 2018, a featured wedding photographer in many bridal blogs and magazines, a published photographer in Vogue Italia and has exhibited her fine-art photography across Europe. Not to mention winning a competition that saw her assisting internationally renowned photographer, Rankin.

See Margo’s work at:

The week kicked off with Margo talking to our students about her work, her career so far and how achieving a 1st class honours degree with us at PCA helped to define and shape her career. We then dove headfirst into a busy day of shooting, with three live external clients providing our students with briefs and products, and an amazing array of unique fashion clothes produced by our very own PCA BA Fashion students. Throw in five models and a make up artist into the mix and we had a super-charged day, taking over five of our studios to produce some really outstanding work. Everybody worked incredibly hard and really pulled together as teams. 

The next day was taken up with the digital workflow and editing processes, overseen by our wonderful in house technical demonstrator Neil, who is always on hand to help with all things Lightroom and Photoshop. It can be a challenging part of the creative process to narrow down your images to a few select choices, but Margo helped the students with their choices, encouraging them to always keep in mind what the client has asked for.

Then we printed the final selection of work for each group and had a critique session, headed up by Margo, where the students received some valuable feedback and got to celebrate their achievements. Margo was a great visiting lecturer to have on board and was incredibly impressed with the standard of our students’ work. We hope to have her back next year! 

Take a look at some of the some of the final images from the day below:


On Location: Shooting Fashion for exclusive fashion label

As part of our Special Project week, where 1st and 2nd year students work collaboratively on a range of client led projects, our students recently had the opportunity to shoot for an exclusive local fashion business

Based in the prestigious Royal William Yard in Plymouth, Identity fashion is an up and coming fashion label working with a group of talented Bulgarian designers to create affordable, exclusive pieces that focus on fluid draping, asymmetrical shapes and relaxed silhouettes. Denitsa Avramova, Identity fashions co-owner and creative director, invited students our students to spend a day shooting a number of their collections.

Students shooting fashion collections in Identity Fashion
On location: Students explore using the historic backdrop of the Royal William Yard for advertising & editorial

Two groups of students were appointed, one to work shooting outfits and accessories inside the shop for e-commerce purposes, the other to work outside on location to capture some stylish shots for advertising and editorial. Tasked with sourcing models and make-up artists and working effectively in creative teams, the brief was a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain experience of shooting fashion for a live brief.

One of the lead photographers, 2nd year student Rosie Hartsorn commented:

‘Working with identity fashion was a great insight into the professional world of fashion photography. I am very grateful for the experience and have gained skills which I will take on with me when working with future clients.

Identity fashion loved the photographs and I was so proud to see my work on their social media. I have kept in contact with the fashion brand and hopefully will work with them in the near future! Overall, I enjoyed the day and gained a lot of positive and helpful feedback.’

Check out a selection of the images produced on the day by our talented students


Our grateful thanks to Denitsa and Identity Fashion for the opportunity to shoot such beautiful collections, and also to our stunning models Petra Blank, Morgan Elder, Selina Hall, Milly Jenkinson and Eden Smith, who all gave their time and energy on the day.

Showtime: Movie publicity project with top industry photographer

As part of our Special Project week, where students work collaboratively on a range of client led projects, our 3rd year students recently had the opportunity to work with legendary TV and film photographer, Alex Bailey

With a career spanning over 30 years, Alex Bailey is a world-class screen and stage photographer, shooting behind the scenes, unit stills and publicity imagery for major theatre, TV and movie productions. His credits include movies such as Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Bohemian Rhapsody, and TV productions such as The Crown and the recent BBC series His Dark Materials. 

Utilising Alex’s considerable experience in shooting world-class publicity material, our students were set a straightforward, but challenging task. Taking inspiration from the theme of The Dark Mid-winter, they were asked to conceive a cinematic narrative, and produce a publicity poster for the film.

Spending two full days with us, Alex spent time working with the students, discussing their ideas, helping with planning and supporting their productions. Sourcing models, clothing, and locations, and in some instances designing sets, the students had one week to plan, shoot, and produce their posters, using Adobe Photoshop to composite the imagery and add text. The project was a real test of the all of the creative, visual and technical skills that our students have spent the last 2 years acquiring.

End of the week review with Alex

The project culminated with a group critique at the end of the week, with Alex reviewing all of the work produced and selecting the winning poster. This was a genuinely difficult challenge, as many of our students produced some outstanding publication quality work, but after much discussion the 1st prize went to Jake Lynch for ‘Other Side of the Door’

The other side of the Door by Jake Lynch

2nd and 3rd prizes went to Lewis Barnard (Barney) and Imogen Bradburn, whose work demonstrated some exceptional compositing skills in Photoshop

Midwinter by Lewis Barnard
Lost Voyage by Imogen Bradburn

The movie poster project was great fun for everyone and importantly provided a unique opportunity for our students to work with a leading industry professional. Our thanks to Alex Bailey for his time, energy and enthusiasm. Alex has joined our ever expanding list of top visiting lecturers and we are looking forward to working with him again in 2020.




Commercial Photography students archive collections at The Box

Students from BA (Hons) Commercial Photography for Fashion, Advertising and Editorial have recently completed an exciting collaboration with expert curators from The Box, Plymouth to photograph items from the collections of the £40+ million cultural development which is set to open in spring 2020.


Guided by Curator of Art, Terah Walkup and Media Archivist, Stacey Anderson, the students were invited to a number of offsite locations to photograph over 200 museum and archival objects, resulting in the creation of more than 400 new high-resolution images. Many of them will be used in the Box’s graphic interpretation and interactive digital displays.

Many of the objects had never been photographed before and included archaeological finds, historic books, prints, paintings, ceramics, costumes, photographs, archival documents, cameras and film equipment.

Due to the challenging nature of some of the pieces, the commercial photography students had to be flexible and creative in setting up cameras, tripods and lights. Some of the objects couldn’t be physically handled or were tricky to photograph, such as artworks behind glass.

One student commented on the difficult nature of some of the objects: “One parchment was particularly challenging because it was folded and couldn’t be forced open. We had to slowly unfold the deed, as it would get damaged if handled too quickly. Every ten minutes, we would unfold it slightly more and weigh it down using archival weights.”


Curator of Art Terah Walkup said: “I looked forward to seeing the students each day and enjoyed their enthusiasm. They were able to capture highly detailed images of our rare books collection, which are challenging to photograph. Quality photography of collections is very important. Not only does it document an object for research and posterity, but a truly beautiful image also captures the spirit of an artwork. The students are now a part of those objects’ stories, in addition to how visitors engage with and encounter our collections.”

Alice Conway, one of the students who took part in the project last year said: “I’d never really looked into museum photography before, so working with The Box was an amazing opportunity to inform this period of my studies. Some of the artefacts were difficult to work with, but despite this technical challenge, myself and the team were always ready to make adjustments. Through this, I was able to find an aspect of photography that I really enjoy, expanding my photographic knowledge and experience.”


Subject Leader & Senior Lecturer Tim Gundry, said: “The collaboration with The Box has been a fantastic opportunity for our students. Guided by their curatorial team, the students were able to apply their skills in an exciting and culturally significant live project, providing them with invaluable professional experience. This is a highly specialised area of photography, requiring sophisticated skills in lighting, colour management and digital workflow, and the skills that the students have developed will become invaluable to them in their careers.”

“The project also provided an exciting opportunity for collaboration between our undergraduate and postgraduate students. Last year one of our MA Photography students, Nick Matthews, was exploring conservation and archival photography as part of his degree study and documented the conservation and restoration of the Royal Naval figureheads. We’re delighted to have played a part in this project with The Box and can’t wait to see how our student’s work will be used to encourage public engagement with the collections.”

The Box will be the biggest cultural and heritage centre in the South West and is also set to be the largest museum and art gallery space opening in the UK in 2020.

Article by Naomi Girdler, Plymouth College of Art

Exclusive live-brief opportunity with Mercedes-Benz

We often tell our students that advertising photography is a broad area of practice and that anything that is made to be sold has to be photographed. Something that was proved recently when we launched an exciting partnership and internship opportunity with Mercedes-Benz South West.

The college has worked with Mercedes-Benz South West before. In 2016 students from our printed textile and surface pattern degree had the opportunity to design a promotional body decal for a Mercedes Smart car. Knowing some of our students’ passion for automotive photography we were keen to continue our collaboration and following meetings with their marketing team, Mercedes came up with a fantastic project idea.

With the final prize of a 2-week internship at Mercedes-Benz South West’s head office in Exeter, our students were offered unique access to a brand-new Mercedes vehicle, with a brief to produce a series of high-quality photographic images. The brief was designed to fit in with the company’s existing marketing communications strategy, and with the new vehicle being launched in 2018, our students were handed a golden opportunity.

The 4MATIC is Mercedes-Benz’s answer to intelligent all-wheel-drive: each wheel independently adapts to the road for optimum control and driving dynamism. In any condition, on all terrain. The new vehicle was launched in November when Mercedes held a four-day showroom event that took place across Mercedes-Benz South West’s four dealerships (Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton and Truro). The campaign to promote the 4MATIC range is ongoing, and this is where our students came in.

As part of this exclusive live brief, Mercedes-Benz South West provided us with a GLC 4MATIC for the day, inviting a small group of our students to create a series of exterior and interior images to promote the 4MATIC on social media.

In collaboration with the Royal William Yard, who kindly provided us with the space to work, our students spent the day photographing the vehicle in a range of different locations, using their lighting skills and high-end digital cameras to produce a range of imagery to showcase the vehicle.

Following the successful photo-shoot, we met with the marketing team from Mercedes to review the work, who were delighted with the imagery. From the initial 8 students who participated in the shoot, three winners were selected, their work being featured on social media as part of the 4Matic marketing campaign. Take a look at some of the selected images below:

Lewis Barnard
Charlie Shattock 9
Charlie Shattock
Josh Huxham
Josh Huxham
Josh Huxham
Josh Huxham

Congratulations to:

Year 1 student Josh Huxham (@huxhamjphoto)

Year 2 student Lewis Barnard (@lewis_barnard_photography)

Year 2 student Charlie Shattock (@streetcultureuk_)

Particular congratulations went to Josh Huxham. Mercedes-Benz South West were so impressed with one of his shots that the image found its way into print, being used for the reception boards in all 4 of the company’s dealerships in Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth and Truro.

Reception Desk

We are now planning the 2nd phase of the brief where Josh, Charlie and Lewis will get to compete in another photo opportunity later in the spring, where the winning image will earn the photographer a 2-week internship at Mercedes-Benz South West. Watch this space.

Huge thanks to Mercedes-Benz South West for providing us with such a fantastic opportunity. 

Our thanks also to the Royal William Yard who kindly provided us with free access to their Factory area to photograph the vehicle.


Sustainable fashion photography takes pride of place in city centre shop

To help promote sustainable fashion choices, our location fashion shoot at Mount Edgcumbe recently involved a collaborative project with St Luke’s Hospice charity shop in Plymouth.

Charity shops can be a fashion treasure trove and St Luke’s kindly gave a team of our students free access to their city centre store, inviting them to style and shoot a collection of elegant party wear sourced entirely from their store.  St Luke’s Head of marketing provided our students with a clear brief, asking them to deliver:

  • A short film showing the team selecting the garments
  • behind the scenes stills and footage from the actual shoot.
  • A series of web ready images for feature on their social media platforms.
  • A printed poster that could be displayed in their shop window.

This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to work on a live brief, with a real client, with the potential of having the work published as part of St Luke’s marketing campaign.

Our talented students didn’t disappoint. After selecting a range of clothing from the store and working with the models on location, they produced a collection of stylish and eye-catching images that very successfully met the brief.

St Luke’s were so delighted with the results, that a selection of the images were turned into large banners which made up the window display of the store during the Christmas period.

Drake Night

Shop Manager Julie Bickford said “It’s great that while the images look like high-end fashion, the outfits sourced from our store were absolute bargains. Just shows you can be stylish in a sustainable way while supporting a fantastic local cause”

The success of the initiative caught the attention of the local media too, being featured in the Evening Herald. A great achievement for our students and great publicity for the charity and their cause.

Congratulations to all of the Commercial Photography students who participated in the project. We spoke with Catherine Hyde, who took the role of stylist, Mi Kelly who was one of the photographers, and Alice Conway who filled the role of producer, to find out more.

Tell us about the brief that you received and your first thoughts about it

Mi: With the theme being Christmas and New Year evening party outfits, St Luke’s wanted the photos to look sophisticated and elegant, matching the style of the house at Mount Edgcumbe where we were shooting. My initial thoughts were excitement due to the fact we had free range of the clothes, shoes and accessories and we were able to piece together a whole look from scratch!

Talk us through the process of sourcing the clothes and organising the photoshoot

Catherine: The process of sourcing the clothes was fun and surprising. The quality of the clothing within the store was really good and there were lots of other outfit options we could have used for the photoshoot had we wanted more. I took on the role of stylist within the group, and after looking at our location for the shoot I felt that a classy, elegant look to the outfits would suit best. I chose the black dress with the gold detailing as I thought it was elegant with a fun twist by having the open back detailing. Similarly to the blue silk dress, the cross detail on the back of the dress sold it to us immediately.

Sounds like you had lots of fun! What was the highlight of the project?

Alice: There wasn’t just one section of the week that really stood out for me as it was all interesting and something a little bit different. The location, Mount Edgcumbe House, was lovely and it was great to shoot in such a grand setting. After a week of hard work it is always fulfilling to see everything you have produced, so when everyone finally got to see the photos printed and the video edited that was probably my highlight.

Take a look at the video produced the students in collaboration with St Luke’s


You can also take a look at some of the work from our talented students, check out their imagery on Instagram

Alice Conway          @aliceconwayphotography

Mi Kelly                     @mikellyphotography

Catherine Hyde       @catherinehydephotography