When Essex-born Alexandria Tilley began looking for the right university to study photography, she already had a firm idea that she’d be studying in London – the only question was where. “A prime location in London was important to me,” she says. “Studying photography there is so beneficial in terms of work experience and networking, as well as the opportunity to visit exhibitions and museums.”
Having decided on London, Alexandria found herself drawn to the BA (Hons) Photography course at LSBU: “I was attracted by the strong influence that professional practice has on the way the course is delivered – that’s really important in photography.”
The combination of our central London location and the professional, hands-on element that this offers LSBU students has met with Alexandria’s approval. “I’ve been able to get work experience at lots of exhibitions,” she says. “I’ve held my own exhibitions at LSBU, liaising with gallery owners, researching funding and organising the gallery. I’ve also had the opportunity to work for the Webbers Gallery for a number of different photographers.”
That particular opportunity arose when photographer Kalpesh Lathigra marked Alexandria’s work and offered her the chance to work at the opening night of his exhibition. From there, Alexandria has worked for other photographers at Webbers, which she feels has helped her networking skills, as well as providing an insight into how exhibitions are run.
“I also worked for an online photography magazine that is soon to make the step into print,” Alexandria continues. “It’s called #PHOTOGRAPHY and I got involved with it to get some more practical experience under my belt. I ran the social media side, wrote articles and undertook research for future issues.”
Elephant Studios at LSBU
Like all LSBU photography students, Alexandria’s education has benefited from access to Elephant Studios at LSBU – an industry-ready media facility which gives students access to the latest equipment and facilities across a wide range of media subjects, including a dedicated print room and photography studio.
“Elephant Studios is so beneficial to students,” says Alexandria. “The equipment is some of the best in the country, and learning how to use it will improve your technical knowledge and prepare you for your career. It also improves the quality of your craft, extending your creativity through using different apparatus.”
Alexandria has made extensive use of the facilities herself, spending five full days in the print room creating test prints and compiling her Photobook. “Having a new print room is such an improvement,” she says. “There’s more space to lay work out and study the prints, and there are plenty of computers available to use too. The inkjet printers helped to create a clean and colourful Photobook that I’m really proud of.”
South Bank Collective
Alexandria has augmented the practical experience she’s gained from Elephant Studios and working at galleries by getting involved with South Bank Collective – a student-led photography agency established by LSBU students and academics working together. “It’s a really exciting venture to be involved with,” she says. “It’s helping me to develop my skills as an all-round photographer – communication and business skills are developing hand-in-hand with my photography practice, giving me an all-round experience that I can take on and learn from.”
It’s been a positive experience for Alexandria, and one that she feels has prepared her well for the final year of her degree and the carer that awaits her beyond that. “There are many paths to go down in photography,” she says, “and LSBU is helping me to explore them. That’s going to help me narrow down my options so that I can develop the skills I need to become a successful photographer.”