Andreas Ayre: “Photography can be quite challenging”

The BA(Hons) Photography at Alexander College/UWE Bristol can develop your creativity and give you the high-level practical skills needed to become a successful photographer. You will be able to work across all areas of the discipline, from editorial and documentary to fashion, advertising and fine art. You will be encouraged to transform your broad-based photographic practice into an individual visual style. On graduation, you will have built a unique and compelling body of work for the marketplace.

The course leader of Photography at Alexander College/UWE Bristol, Mr Andreas Ayre, talks with us about the art of photography. He believes that the most significant skill for someone to become a photographer is passion.

«Once you have the passion to create through this medium, one needs to have theoretical and technical knowledge to be able to apply it to the idea and make the image. Knowledge can be gained through studying the work of other photographers, both past and present as well as all the technical elements that contribute during the process».

Mr Ayre the photography course at Alexander College is the only BA(Hons) course of photography in Cyprus. How popular is this course today?
It is true that Alexander College is the only institution in Cyprus offering a BA degree in Photography. Our degree program can be completed in 3 years and it is endorsed by the University of the West of England, at Bristol. Studying for a BA in Photography in Cyprus was not possible a few years back. Our aim is to constantly inform prospective students about the course, and the choices and employment possibilities available to them. I must say that I am pleased with the increased public interest as well as the growing number of students enrolling on the course.

What are the necessary skills and criteria for a person to attend this course?
As the course is delivered in English, those interested to join the course need to be competent in the English language. Most importantly though, a passion for photography is vital. There is a misconception that studying photography is considered sometimes as something quite practical and easy. I must say that theory is embedded in the course and students are asked to read scholarly articles and carry out research in relation to their project work. An appetite to learn through studying and experimentation are just as important. Additionally, a portfolio of any artwork, including photographed images will help us understand student’s potential and guide them to develop further.

What are the challenges that the art of photography pose?
Photography can be quite challenging in most cases as we need to create an image which was first conceived as an idea in our mind. The execution from idea to the final image contains a number of stages, from idea generation to presentation. At the same time photography being creative, offers, through all its stages, contentment and the sense of achievement. This is common with most art forms where the artists can easily lose track of time and rarely gets bored with the process.

How many types of photography there are?
There are a number of genres within photography. One can notice that these are growing every so often as technology develops and offers new creative approaches. Our students get involved, mainly through their projects, with landscapes, portraits, fashion, moving images, editorial, still life, documentary, to mention a few. Part of the creation process is what we call post-processing. Here students develop their images further with the use of specialised software.

In your opinion, what are the most necessary skills for someone to become a photographer?
Passion. Once you have the passion to create through the medium, one needs to have theoretical and technical knowledge to be able to apply it to the idea and make the image. Knowledge can be gained through studying the work of other photographers of the past or current, as well as all the technical elements that contribute during the process.

Who are your favourite photographers and why?
I personally enjoy the work of a number of image makers. Among them are Richard Avedon, Ansel Adams, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Even though they excelled in different genres of photography, I consider them all masters of the art.Whatthey have in common, and I admire mostly, is their determination in creating the “perfect” image. Studying their images one can see the passion, devotion, and effort placed before, and during the making.

What are the possible job options for a graduate student of Alexander college/UWE in the course of photography?
I must say that some of our students are already working in the field. Traditionally, in Cyprus, photography is confined in shooting events like weddings and christenings. There are though other opportunities where a student can take on commercial work, shooting for advertisement, products and fashion. Additionally, students can venture into the global market selling stock images, and fine art work.

How connected is the collaboration of Alexander College/UWE with the University of the West of England in Bristol regarding the photography course?
The collaboration we have with the University of the West of England is excellent. I must confess though that the course is very demanding and all students’ work is additionally moderated by lecturers from the University. We constantly strive to maintain University standards as the degrees our students obtain comes directly from the University at Bristol.

On the 7th of May an exhibition will take place by the third year students of Alexander/UWE. What can we expect to see?
We should expect to see final year student work which was specifically prepared for the exhibition. Students will demonstrate through their images their creativity in generating interesting ideas and their skills in applying techniques to produce and present their work.