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South Bank Collective, student-led photography agency and LSBU spin-out company

The South Bank Collective is LSBU's newly registered creative agency giving photography students commercial experience and entrepreneurial skills

Following a successful trial period, London South Bank University (LSBU) has officially launched the South Bank Collective, a creative photography agency run and staffed entirely by students.

Providing commercial and entrepreneurial experience

The Collective gives students on the BA (Hons) Photography course the chance to deliver professional photography services at competitive rates across a range of briefs including artwork, events, marketing and creative projects.

“LSBU’s arts degrees have a strong focus on professional practice, preparing our students for a range of careers including freelancing and entrepreneurship. We want to provide students with industry-relevant experience that goes beyond simply teaching them about it in a classroom,” said Daniel Alexander, Senior Lecturer in Photography and the supervising academic for the Collective.

The Collective has numerous benefits for students. By providing advice on how much to charge clients and a structure for determining the value of their work, the Collective hopes to help students avoid falling prey to creative exploitation. Students also gain professional freelancing experience, building their expertise in invoicing, preparing quotes, time budgeting and handling insurance.

“The Collective has provided me with a platform to learn about setting up a business, and furthered my leadership and management skills. I have had the chance to work with a variety of interesting clients, build a good network of people I want to work with in the future, and find my preferred career path,” said Lisa Drew, who is currently studying BA (Hons) Photography and is Director of Creative at the Collective.

Reinvesting in our students

The Collective was recently spun-out from LSBU as a registered community-interest company following a successful semester of test trading. The company was set up as a collaboration between the students, the School of Arts and Creative Industries, and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute.

During the pilot, students earned a total of £5,500 from a range of clients, including LSBU, the Royal London Society for Blind People and UK Youth Charity.

“LSBU, one of the Collective’s first clients, commissions a lot of photography, which previously had been going to external photographers. Now the University is commissioning the Collective and reinvesting in its students. By charging professional fees the collective is generating work for the students without undercutting on price, which would harm the industry as a whole,” said Daniel.

The Collective is another example of the myriad ways LSBU utilises student potential. The South Bank Collective’s website was designed by digital design start-up Bento Web, which was started by LSBU Digital Marketing graduates on our Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme.

Along with a variety of new assignments, the Collective has been commissioned for a variety of new assignments, including photography for LSBU’s graduation ceremonies at the Royal Festival Hall. Going forward, the agency aims to expand its student staff, and incorporate film and design services.