We were thrilled to have TICE Photography visit Monkseaton High School and Longbenton High School for this year’s Insight Stage. Katie Lee, 1/2 Photography mentors this year, was introduced to some fresh new faces, all of whom differed in experience – some had passion and experience in the field whilst others admittedly weren’t aware of the inner workings of a camera. As always, this is the beauty of the TICE journey. Taking something on for the first time is always an exciting experience and these young students were immersed right from the get-go with all the enthusiasm of a greyhound before a big race.

To begin, the students were given insight on being a photographer through Katie’s lens, looking at her portfolio of experience in the field including travel and wedding photography and more recently her photographic work in interiors. It was a great opportunity for the students to have a true understanding as to what it means to be a photographer, as Katie described just how intense and vast the career path can be. Many students questioned her decision to work as a freelance photographer, to which Katie explained exactly what challenges she has had to face during that process. Ultimately the prospect of being a professional photographer, having the opportunity to work with like-minded people and the ability to meet and work with not only celebrities but inspiring people just goes to show why the creative industries are the most intensive but rewarding careers to be part of.

One of the most important points that Katie alluded to on the day is that in photography, you can follow or chose to not follow the rules. However, something even more important is that to break the rules one must know what those rules are. Decision making is key in every photograph whether you’re a beginner or a professional. For students to hear this must’ve been reassuring – to know that it’s not about capturing the most beautiful, crisp image and it, in fact, being about putting your own character and artistic identity in the image you take.

To take the conversation further, Katie wanted to touch upon exactly what is happening in the industry right now and in the future of the industry. It is constantly growing, evolving and moulding into different mediums – in the case of photography, Instagram has become a very powerful tool. It has even influenced Katie’s career with her account for Beautiful Homes in the North currently on 14.1K followers and counting. It seems that this may be a running conversation for the upcoming TICE stages, so it will be exciting to see the students explore that aspect of the industry even more.

Armed with knowledge and cameras, the teams swarmed around the school with their free imaginations to capture their artistic identity, from portraits to landscape and everything in between. Although it was a pleasant surprise to see so many beginners engage so quickly on their first shoot, what amazed me more so was the quality of pictures that were being taken. The students clearly had a natural talent for creating quality images, not in terms of the camera they used but their composition and general consideration of their environment. With no directions whatsoever they had managed to create cool detailed shots, eye-catching silhouettes and lovely portraits. Very nice indeed. And very promising.

After a quick break to internalise the intensive day, students settled back in the classroom and began to create a mini-presentation with their best images from the morning and afternoon shoots, highlighting their differences and explaining why they chose to change certain elements of each photo. It was essentially similar to a photographer being interviewed with their portfolio which is a perfect taste of what they could face in a photographic career. Overall, students seemed to learn so much from simply capturing photos of the grounds they walk on every weekday. Who knew a school campus could be captured so artistically!

We are excited to welcome on board Katie’s co-mentor and the new addition to our team, Jennine Wilson. Jennine has just finished her master degree in Photography at the University of Sunderland, working specifically in more abstract, artistic forms of Photography. It will be exciting what is to come with these two ladies working side-by-side in the upcoming stages. It is already certain after this year’s Insight Stage – they will be working with a group of young, innovative and passionate photographers and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for them. Thank you to Monkseaton and Longbenton High School – we look forward to seeing you on the next stage!