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Interview Tips
Interview tips for students applying for photography courses. A level, Foundation and Degree level courses
Important points:

Firstly: Don’t obsess about one university / college, this will only make you more nervous and in reality if the interview goes badly, it probably for the best that you don’t spend the next few years with the interviewer as your tutor.

Secondly: forget the numbers, if your work is good and you come across as enthusiastic on the day, you are in with a very good chance.

Lastly: prepare and you’ll give yourself the best chance.

There is no secret to getting a place, interviewers are asking themselves some very simple question about candidates: Will they see the course through; do they have the basic level of skills needed to start the course; will they add to the dynamics of the year group?

Lecturers are only human, they want a simple life, so are looking for keen enthusiastic students that show they really have decided on photography as the only path for them.


Everyone turning up for interviews will say they are enthusiastic about photography and studying it at this level. So how does the interviewer work out who really is... well actions speak louder than words.

1. Know your influences. In the interview they will ask you who your main influences are, or to list a few photographers you like; make sure you can easily name five, and try to drop these names in when they are going through your portfolio.


2. Know some proper photography magazines.
Even if you just spend an afternoon in WHSmith flicking through them.
Look out for Aperture, Creative Review, Dazed and Confused, ID, and the British Journal of Photography (BJP), on the whole interviews are not going to be that interested in Amateur Photographer or other enthusiast titles.
(see the publication list on the useful
website page)

3. See an exhibition or two.
They expect students to go to exhibitions, you are
photographers gallery
supposed to be interested in photography as a medium, not just your own work. It does not matter which galleries you have been to, you should be able to answer a question like; ‘can you tell us about an exhibition you have seen that effected you’. You don’t have to like the work, but take a few minutes to read the gallery blurb and form an informed opinion.

4. Have something to say about every set of images
in your portfolio (see portfolio guidance).
You won’t get a chance to speak about each set, and nor should you, but when an interview pauses at one of your images its good to have something to say.

5. Read a few chapters from the set books you’ll be reading in a few
photo book
months when you start the course. This is a big tip and quite easy, few people do academic reading unless they have to, so this will make you stand out and you probably only have to read the first chapter or two from a couple of titles to impress the interviewer. (see reading list page).

Preparation Steps

As soon as you start applying for courses, start to prepare your portfolio.

In the months leading up to the interviews; go to galleries, browse the photo magazines and get a couple of books from the reading list out of the library.

The night before your interview; set aside half an hour on your own, then flip through your portfolio talking through what you will say about each set.

Finally, every course interviews in a different way, some are one to one formal interviews, going through your portfolio, some are group based, where you comment on each others work, some look at the portfolio separately to the interview. Unfortunately you are unlikely to know the format before you go along, so you will have to just go with the flow, just try and enjoy the day, and it’s an old saying, but you are interviewing them too, do you like the sound of the course, is this an environment you will thrive in. It’s like a first date, you’re both eyeing each other up to see if you are compatible.

© Nigel Watts 2011-2016 Contact/About