As a fun way to start the year, we’ve been in touch with a bunch of our graduates and asked them to share a bit about their experience at PSC and to let us know what they’ve been up to since graduating.
Today, we’re really excited to feature Chloe Smith, who finished studying at PSC in 2015 and is a photographer for The Weekly Times newspaper while she also continues to build her own business.
What got you started in photography?
I always had a camera growing up, but I was always more into drawing and painting. I was always taking photos of my pets and friends, but often used those photos as a reference for a drawing. My school didn’t offer photography, so it wasn’t really something I thought about. It was only once year 12 came around that I realised how much I was going to miss my friends and how scared I was of losing precious memories, so I just started documenting everything with my camera that I got for my 17th birthday/Christmas. I had no idea about the technical aspect of photography, but it wasn’t needed to capture a true smile or a fun moment that wasn’t to happen again. That’s really where it took off. I realised from there how much I loved capturing emotion and bubbly moments full of laughter and happiness. To me, photography was and still is about capturing those magic little moments that are often missed or overlooked.
Why did you decide to study at PSC?
PSC wasn’t where I thought I would be going. In fact, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Unsure about photography, I took a gap year after being accepted into PSC. The gap year wasn’t great, and I decided I didn’t want to have a year like that again, so I bit the bullet (still unsure about doing photography) and went to PSC. And now here we are – you could say it turned out to be something I would really enjoy!
When did you graduate and what did you focus on?
I graduated with my bachelor degree in 2015 with a major in commercial photography. At the time, my folio chopped and changed so much! First semester I focused more on lifestyle photography, something I’ve always loved, and second semester I went back to what I was pretty familiar with growing up in a country town which was more of a rural/dogs portfolio.
How did PSC help get you where you are today?
At first, I struggled with forming concepts, but that struggle really helped in the long run. I worked my butt off every week to always be shooting new images. It was my way of dealing with the struggle of concepts. That way I could be shown through my work how to stitch it all together with images I was already producing. I am very thankful for my teachers that would go through all of my images each week to help me out, and also the massive amount I usually had at the end of semester. It also helped that I was encouraged to make more work as often as possible, so that drive to create and work hard to do so has really been drilled into me and helps me a lot today to keep pushing on and creating no matter how busy I am! PSC also got me out of my comfort zone (a lot) but it’s all been for the better! I can now strike up a conversation with anyone I want (I was really shy), which really helps when working for a newspaper!
How do you balance your job and personal work?
I work a few different jobs, so fitting in personal work is hard, but at the same time, I enjoy my other jobs a lot too! Plus, sometimes shooting jobs you can put your own little spin on them so it’s not like your totally missing out on creating for yourself. If I really want to make work that is my own however, I just make time somewhere and go for it. I love capturing any little magic moment, and they happen every day. So most days I’ll just carry my camera around and I’m sure to capture something for my soul.
Tell us a bit about your job with The Weekly Times and your own personal practice/business.
The work I do for The Weekly Times and my own work is very different, but I love both just as much! Probably the only similar thing is that every day I’m outdoors. The Weekly Times is a rural newspaper, so every day I’m out driving hundreds of kilometres to capture photos. I travel all over Victoria, often driving between 4-8 (sometimes more) hours a day, depending on where the job is in Victoria. I get to meet all kinds of people, mostly farmers, and go to all types of farms and events. The things I photograph range from farmers to cattle and sheep, fruit and vegetables, harvest, machines, even rural artists and sunrises over vines. It’s a lot of fun and every day I’m learning so much. I’m constantly challenged by weather and light and by being pushed out of my comfort zone.
My own commercial business focuses more on lifestyle, a bit of underwater and fashion photography, and a little less of the rural life. Instead, I’m usually hitting up the beach! I love to shoot fashion and swimwear, but in a fun and more candid/lifestyle way. Usually, without really meaning to, I make friends with the model and basically we just get silly and have a lot of fun – and I get to capture that!
The great thing about both though is that I can learn from each and apply it to the other, such as learning how to deal with pouring rain working with the paper, I can apply to my commercial work, and I can also learn more natural poses from models that I can sometimes apply to farmers.
What are you working on at the moment?
Nothing major at the moment! After a busy year of working four jobs and getting into the swing of working for a newspaper as well as starting my own business, I’m just starting to slow down a little bit. I have decided to get back to shooting more for myself though, and getting back into shooting the little magic moments that are often missed, and just the way I see things – in a lot of light and colour.
Who and/or what inspires you?
I am inspired by a lot of things, but the number one would have to be sunshine. I love sunlight – pure bright summer sunlight. It brings out all the colours, which is something I’m also very inspired by! Throw in a bit of ocean and nature (and some laughter), and I’m buzzing.
How would you describe your style?
Bright, colourful and happy!
What has been the most rewarding part of your career so far?
Every day for me is rewarding! And each in a totally different way to the last. Some of my work has been published in a book and also a magazine, and that is definitely one of the highlights! Seeing my work in print every week with the paper is always exciting! But the most rewarding thing is all the incredible friends I’ve made since the start. I’ve made amazing friends at PSC and out and about at work, including models I have worked with who are now some of my best friends. The support that comes from all of them I can’t even put into words, but my friends are by far the most rewarding thing that has come out of picking up a camera (literally tearing up now thinking about it – haha!).
What advice would you give to current PSC students or people thinking of enrolling at PSC?
If you have an inkling of enjoyment for photography, just go and do it! Make sure to stick to your gut, your passions and your outlook. Make work that is you, and the rest will come naturally.
Our full time Bachelor degree and part time Advanced Diploma courses for 2017 are still open for application, so if you’re interested in following Chloe’s footsteps, give us a call on (03) 9682 3191 or visit our website.