Lisa Drew, alumna, BA (Hons) Photography
How one student has enhanced her photography skills by working with South Bank Collective and utilising the facilities in Elephant Studios
Although Lisa Drew already had a Marketing and PR degree under her belt, she still found herself looking to do something more creative with her future. “I’ve always been a keen photographer, and had really positive feedback about my work from a lot of my friends,” she says. “As a result, I began looking for the best university to study a photography degree – and that’s what led me to LSBU.”
After attending an Open Day – “it was really well organised, and the tutors were friendly and approachable” – Lisa decided that LSBU was the right place for her. It’s a decision that she feels has been fully justified by her experiences on her BA (Hons) Photography course.
“What I liked about the course was that it gave you the technical skills to succeed, along with the theory to back things up – but also gives you a real understanding of the commercial side of the industry as well,” says Lisa.
As an LSBU photography student, Lisa has been one of many to benefit from the excellent facilities at Elephant Studios as part of her course. “The facilities are absolutely fantastic,” she says. “Having them available to help your development as a practitioner is great, and they really have helped me with my work.”
“The kit room is great and extremely useful,” says Lisa. “If you don’t yet have all the kit you need, you can go there and borrow lenses, projectors and much more – anything you might need.” Lisa’s also made the most of Elephant Studios’ print room to prepare and print her work. “The Macs there are not just really fast, but also have all the software you would ever need to use – as well as great printers you can use for display work, projects and so on.”
Lisa also found the studio space at Elephant Studios to be especially useful, particularly as she began to find her own artistic direction as a photographer during her degree. “When I started out, I had a clear idea in my head about becoming a food photographer,” she explains. “However, the tutors at LSBU allow you to develop in your own way and style. They continuously give you feedback and point you in the right direction, but also allow you to make your own decisions. As a result, I now focus on portraying people in my photography, as I have learned that this is one of my talents and I’ve used the studio space at Elephant Studios for some of my work.”
South Bank Collective
The combination of commercial understanding and practical skills that so appealed to Lisa when she applied was further demonstrated during her course with the creation of the South Bank Collective, a student-led photography agency that has been established by LSBU students and academics working together. “I am a founding member and was the student director for two years,” says Lisa. “It taught me so much about photography. As well as heading out on shoots and taking photographs for clients, I also gained experience in running an agency – something that really helped me with my education as well.”
In her third year, Lisa was invited – along with other members of the South Bank Collective – to enter a competition to shoot a calendar for Fassi Cranes. “It was a great experience,” she says. “We were flown out to Italy to take the photographs for the 2017 calendar, and it was a great experience – a lot of hard work, but the end results were worth it and we took some great photographs.”
As well as her time at the helm of South Bank Creative, Lisa was able to gain further practical experience due to the fact that LSBU’s academic team are still heavily involved with the industry themselves. “It really helps that our lecturers are practising professionals, because they give you different insights and experiences of the industry,” she says. “They offer so much support – and they often know someone who can help you with very specific things. The guest lectures are also great – you get the chance to network and chat to them afterwards as well, and some of us have gone on to assist them on future shoots.”
As she looks to the future, Lisa is confident that her time at LSBU has prepared her well for a successful career in photography. “For me, the best part of the course was the networking opportunity that it presented me with,” she says. “I will take away a great network of people that I want to work with in the future. I’ve gathered a great group of friends and future colleagues around me that will help me with my plans for my future – and that’s one of the reasons why I can highly recommend LSBU to anyone considering a photography degree.”
Lisa's work can be viewed on her website: Lisa-Drew.com.