We have been working with Swiss Cottage School in an artist-residency scheme throughout this school year to raise the aspirations of young secondary students. Find out more about the brilliant photography work of a 16 year old student supported by Shape artist Ben Fredericks... 

Tim, in Year 11 at Swiss Cottage Special School, had the opportunity to foster his talent in photography on a long-term basis and put together an arts award portfolio and exhibition. The Silver Arts Award helped Tim to develop the skills needed to excel in the arts and photography industries and meet with artists and professionals in the creative sector. As part of his qualification, aspiring photographer Tim interviewed professional photographer and film-maker Ben Annesley to find out about how to fulfil his dream of taking photography as a career.

Professional photographer Ben Annesley at workWhat kind of photography are you into?
I'm more into capturing with video and taking stills from the footage. I like street photography, which literally means just going into the street and shooting interesting things. I also like a type of photography called high-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI or HDR), which is a set of techniques used in photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range. 

How can I gain the confidence to take photos of people in the street?
There is no easy answer to this question. Street photography has become very popular recently, so I think people starting to get used to having their picture taken candidly. Use a small camera, and if you want to take a picture of a particular person, you can always ask their permission. The worst they can say is no and they are more likely to say yes.

I have always wanted to ask a professional film-maker this question. What actually is 35mm?
A 35 mm film refers to the size of the negative most commonly used for films and chemical still photography. In digital cameras it refers to the size of the sensor.

Did you go college to do photography?
No. I don't think you don't need to now. There are so many resources online, such as YouTube. 

I like to use film, what is your preference?
I prefer to use digital. It's very cheap, very powerful, and you can edit your pictures later on the computer.

Untitled by Timmy G
Untitled by Timmy G

Do you have a blog? 
I don't, but it's a good idea to have one nowadays.

What jobs have you had as a professional photographer?
Mainly video jobs. Sometimes I'm asked to do photos and video, which you can now do all on the same camera. A Canon 5DMK2 is great for both mediums. 

Do you take part in exhibitions?
I have never had an exhibition. This is because for an exhibition you need to get very high quality prints made, which means spending money. 

How can I turn photography into a full-time career? 
Ah, the million dollar question! To be honest, I think the main thing is to be flexible and do lots of different types of photography. Weddings are a great place to start making money. Offer to do some for free, for example advertise on gumtree and build a portfolio. After a few jobs you can start to charge people, but it's important to read up on how to do it correctly. The main thing is to try and see things in an unusual way. It helps if you don't think too much about it. Let your instincts guide you, take lots of pictures and always experiment.

We are very grateful to Ben for his time responding to students’ questions. Tim’s conversation with Ben launches a series of interviews young students will take with professionals to learn about careers in the cultural and creative industries and inspire other young people who want to take the creative route to progress their lives.


Banner image taken by Tim (high street view)
Inset image: Ben Annesley at work

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To find out more about our work with young people and what services we offer, please go to this link on our Arts Opportunities pages