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Turning professional: from suburban mum to photography star

by Yvette Maurice

Brooke Deering lives in a small country town called Garfield in Victoria. She has been doing the recently updated CUV40311 Certificate IV in Design (Specialising in Photography) for about a month now. “I still have a long way to go!” admits Brooke.

By electing to study online, Brooke has chosen a more flexible way to learn and formalise her skills. Her course is self-paced, meaning there are no due dates for assignments. Brooke simply completes the tasks in the study periods when she finds the time, which is not always easy as she has a young family.

“It’s going very well,” says Brooke, “however I definitely find it challenging to get the time to do lots of work at once as I am a new mum to a three month old little girl, Sophie.”

Studying online has been a useful way to gain the skills she wants to. “I have found it being very convenient doing it in my own time, at my own pace online. If it weren’t for this course I probably would never have been able to achieve this dream of mine,” explains Brooke.

Brooke’s dream is already well underway. She has started her own photography business in Garfield and she is aiming at turning the skills she has into professional assets. Brooke says that with her new photography skills, she “hopes to become a better photographer and achieve much more professional-looking photographs.” But that’s not all. “I also want to achieve a successful business and gain a better understanding of photography.”

However, this young mum is not new to the craft. “I have been doing photography as a hobby for seven years now,” says Brooke. “I started in year nine doing photography as a subject at high school. Then I went through to studio arts, specialising in DSLR photography.”

Her photography work continued on into her adult life, in both a professional and hobby-based format. Brooke explains, “Since leaving high school I have been doing photography for family and friends but just recently have opened my own photography business. I am just trying to get that established as well.”

Brooke decided to study the CUV40311 Certificate IV in Design (Specialising in Photography) to gain formal, accredited qualifications in an area that she hopes to continue to work professionally in. She believes that gaining accredited skills will help her with this, which is why she chose to study with Open Colleges. Studying a creative subject online is done by submitting work towards a portfolio, and learning via rich media resources such as preloaded YouTube videos.

Brooke explains the benefits of studying online, saying, “Well it does take a lot of persistence. I think you have to be quite passionate about what you are studying to give you that drive to want to study. You need to make yourself study in your own time.”

She says that this has not been too difficult for her, however, as a lot of the content is clearly spelled out. “Basically I have been given a study guide which tells me what I need to do. Attached, are assignments which are written but also require me to take photos and upload them, which I am assessed on,” she explains.

“I do all of this on the computer and I interact with my trainer and other students online via the student portal (OpenSpace) where I can view what other students and teachers say as well as ask any questions.”

Open Colleges has custom-created a student portal, similar in design to other social media platforms, where students can post and interact with each other. Brooke says that although she not yet met up with any of her fellow students in person, she has used OpenSpace to connect with other photography students online.

“I have interacted with other students via the student portal, they are good at helping other students out if they know the answer to a question and are also good for encouragement,” says Brooke. “I am only new to this course so I’m sure I will make more contact in the future.”

The course is created and coordinated by John Hollingshead, an internationally acclaimed artist with over two decades of professional experience in Australia and the UK.
“John is great,” says Brooke. “He is very quick to reply and so far I feel as though he has been terrific support. Plus, he’s great at giving feedback.”

John agrees that Brooke is progressing well in the course, stating that Brooke is very focused and is “showing immediate artistic application to her portfolio tasks.” He goes on to say, “I am looking forward to seeing her future projects.”

In her own words, she’s “…only a month in,” but declares, “so far so good! I am excited to take my time and learn lots along the way!”

With talent like the level displayed in her work here, Open Colleges is confident that Brooke will go on to achieve her dreams and gain even more skills in the discipline she loves. We wish her all the best.

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