Gordon Jones completed the Professional Diploma in Photography, and this is his photography course experience.
“Over the years, my job took me to amazing places in many different parts of the world and for most of this time, I was taking photographs – quite often in the early morning or late at night when I wasn’t working.
I started photography at school with my first 35mm camera, and I still have a collection of negatives from that time. Sadly, the camera is long gone. As time went on, my equipment improved but my photography not so much. So, relieved of the need to travel so often and with more time to spare, I decided to try to improve my skills. I knew this would not happen for me without some professional oversight and tutoring; the question was precisely how this might work.
I searched the internet for suitable courses within easy reach of where I live and found a few, but most of them were quite short and did not look particularly challenging. I wanted something that would push me.
There was one other problem with all of these courses; they almost all assumed that you would be using a DSLR. I have absolutely nothing against the DSLR; I owned one and some reasonable zoom lenses. The problem was me. I took terrible photographs with it. If only someone had said, “Ignore the menus, set the camera to manual and take everything at 50mm for a few weeks, ” things might have worked out differently.
This put me off photography for a time, but eventually, the bug bit me again, and I looked for a solution to my menu/zoom problem. It came in the form of a second-hand rangefinder and two incredible used prime lenses.
I still use the lenses all the time, while the body, which gathered dust for a while, has recently been revived for some attempts at infrared photography. I’ve now got over my problem with menus, but I would still rather change lenses or walk a few feet than use a zoom. I promise you I’m no Luddite (I even have a compact camera with auto-focus, and I love my new live view camera) but I’m never going to be a sports or wildlife photographer.
This is where IOP came to the rescue. The Advanced Diploma in Photography course looked comprehensive and challenging – even a bit daunting – but nowhere was there any suggestion that the course was camera specific.
Being able to complete the assignments at your own pace is brilliant. It means that you can take time over things you find challenging and need to practise. You can also take weeks over something that fires your imagination and for which you want to produce the very best possible submission.
I have been on the course for just five months, and it has turned out to be exactly what I wanted. The early modules on basics, like shutter speed and exposure, have provided an invaluable and thorough revision of things I might have thought I already knew.
The units on composition were an extensive examination of something I had been dealing with by instinct, with varying degrees of success. Along the way, wanting my pictures to look as good as they can,
I have also greatly improved my skills at editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. I have had some helpful advice from the tutors about this and, incidentally, it was great to find that at least one of them shares my fondness for old, German lenses.
The course so far has helped me improve my photography. I now often find myself taking fewer shots than I might have before, just because I am starting to think more about what I am trying to achieve and also have a better understanding of how to get there.
You can see more of Gordon’s work here