Media and Communication BA (Hons)
Johnathan’s exciting career as being a Photographer to the stars kicked off within weeks of graduating. Thanks to the experience he picked up at BCU, as well as his excellent networking skills, Jonathan is thriving in his career as a freelance photographer, videographer and TikTok content creator and is now working with huge names in the entertainment industry, from Maya Jama to Cardi B.
“My secondary school art teacher got me into photography. I was introduced to photography as a GCSE option. Since I was a great art student, my art teacher, Mr Daniels, suggested trying the new photography GCSE. I had no idea what to expect, but thankfully, the course was incredible, and three years later, I got a Grade A in photography.
Soon, I was choosing what to study at university. I always wanted to go to university, but I initially planned to attend one outside Birmingham. I wanted to have the stereotypical university experience; leave home, go to a new city, party, work hard and graduate after three years.
BCU was one of my choices, but I missed both open days. At the last minute, the university put together an informal, unofficial open day for three potential students, including myself. I was sold after the first 10 minutes of the open day. The course sounded incredible, the lecturers were fantastic, and the facilities were beyond impressive.
But the main reason I chose BCU was the feeling that the university gave me. When I walked around the campus on the open day, it already felt like my campus. When I spoke to the lecturers, they felt like my lecturers. When I saw the modules, they felt like the modules I always wanted to take. No other university I visited gave me that same feeling. BCU just felt like the perfect place for me!
Media and Communications was a great course for me. Every module I picked was taught by a fantastic lecturer who was exceptionally skilled within their chosen field. They were patient, friendly, kind and, most importantly, supportive. It felt like every lecturer I had genuinely wanted to see me succeed.
The course also had a lot of great practical and theory modules. I love how the university designed each module. Every class, assignment, and presentation made sense. The work I was doing never felt pointless or tedious. Everything had a purpose, and that genuinely motivated me to work hard.
I became a professional photographer two weeks after graduating. My first freelance job was events photography at Flight Club Darts Birmingham. A few months later, I started photographing other Flight Club venues across the UK. I then started freelancing for B:Music as an events photographer.
But after the pandemic, my career really began to take off. I was receiving more freelance jobs, attending more events, and getting my name out there. I'm now a full-time photographer and digital content creator.
Most of the opportunities come from word of mouth and constant networking. Someone will contact me for a shoot or event. They'll usually hear about me via a past client, and nine times out of ten, the photoshoot goes great, and they'll either hire me again when they need me or recommend me to someone they know. For me, word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, and you're only as good as your last job in the photography industry.
A few note-worthy projects I have been involved in include the MOBO Awards, Wireless Festival, Parklife Festival, Reading & Leeds, All Points East and a few events for BET UK (Black Entertainment Television). However, the project that I'm proud of the most would be the GRM Gala. I've produced some of my best work at the past three Galas.
Since graduating, making a consistent income from photography each month is what I'm the proudest of. All the music festivals and industry events I've attended are incredible but knowing that I can make a living from something I used to do for free makes me extremely proud. And it makes my mom proud too. So, it's a win a win.
There are two essential pieces of advice that every aspiring photographer should know. The first is understanding how to network. Building solid relationships with the right people in the creative industry can take you far. So don't be afraid to approach people and tell them who you are, what you do and why you think connecting would be beneficial.
I recommend attending industry events, talking to as many people as possible, and establishing relationships. The more people that know about you, the more likely you'll be to receive opportunities.
The second piece of advice is for aspiring freelance photographers. It's essential that you study and understand the business side of photography. There's a lot more to being a successful photographer than your skills. Know how to price your services, negotiate fees, create invoices, draw up contracts and understand copyright laws and photo-licensing. I've found that the main reason why photographers quit or never transition to working full-time is that they fail to understand the photography business.
I’m looking forward to the future. I want my career as a freelancer to expand each year. I want to work with more prominent clients, have more shoots, upgrade my equipment, travel abroad for work, and continue to do the things that make me happy.”