Case study

Fine art photographer — Ted Homer

Ted is a landscape photographer and a recent graduate of the University of the West of England. He advises gaining as much experience as possible while at university

How did you get your job?

I'm self-employed so I created it myself. I promote my work through my own website, tedhomer.co.uk, as well as gaining work elsewhere.

Originally I depended on part-time work, such as working in a photo lab and as an assistant photographer, but also some casual work, just to help pay the bills. This was in order to support myself while I was doing as much photography as possible and setting up as self-employed.

Getting a grant from the Arts Council also played a part in it.

Put yourself out there as much as possible and reach out to people working in the field

How relevant is your degree to your job?

It is completely relevant. Anyone can take a photograph, but my course taught me how to source funding, to promote my work, to book-keep (surprisingly important, particularly when applying for grants) and also how to run a business.

It also gave me the opportunity to network with photographers, artists, editors and buyers who came into the university to give talks, and who I've kept in touch with and still work with now.

What are your main work activities?

It really varies from day to day. If the weather is good I will be outside on shoots. If not, I might be scanning negatives, editing or book-keeping. As I'm self-employed I can choose what hours I work and how I spread my day, so I might work for a few hours in the morning and then finish working in the evening. It's really flexible.

How do you use your degree in your job?

Obviously I learned a lot of technical skills, but I think the most beneficial thing was learning about applying for grants and funding. I wouldn't have been able to get this far without that support.

The degree also taught me how to value my work and calculate the cost of the time I have put into it. I also find I have more credibility as a professional because I have a degree.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love the freedom of being self-employed and defining my own schedule and creative direction. I don't think you can be in this for the money, though.

I also love that I don't have to commute.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

The financial side is a challenge. The recession has really increased the competitive nature of photography, particularly in a niche market. It can be hard to balance the work alongside finding creative ways to raise money in order to fund my projects.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I'd like to achieve a greater sense of job security by reaching a wider audience and being less dependent on grants.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Be proactive and use the network provided in university. Put yourself out there as much as possible and reach out to people working in the field. They will nearly always be willing to help.

Get experience if you can and produce as much photography as possible, even during your holiday, and start everything as early as possible in your degree, as it will pay off later.