MA Visual Communication
Do you have an eye for design? Would you like to help influence the future of visual communications? Solent University’s MA Visual Communication programme is ideally suited to...
BA (Hons) Photography
I run my own business called Nisha Haq Photography, and I specialise in weddings, commercials and events. I’m based in Southampton, so it’s great to be based in the city that I graduated from – I’ve been doing it for five years and really love what I do.
I was still a part-time photographer when I won the award, while working full-time as a designer. I had to pitch to the judges about why I thought I should win, and to get the feedback that they wanted to give me the award – when I was up against so many other amazing people and hundreds of applicants from all walks of life – was just amazing. I almost wasn’t going to apply as I felt I wasn’t good enough, which I think many creative freelancers battle with. So this experience was a huge confidence boost and I feel so honoured to have been recognised nationally. The award also came with a £3,000 investment, as well as mentoring sessions with industry leaders to help my business grow.
The freelancer lifestyle is certainly unique, fun and the most rewarding. Having done a degree in photography and working as a professional photographer soon after graduating feels fantastic. What makes my job really special is when I get amazing testimonials from my clients when they receive their images, or when the mother of the bride congratulates me on how well I’ve documented her daughter’s wedding. I also love the fact I get to be really creative in my business – from branding, web design and marketing, to video production and the photography itself, I get to build everything from scratch. A lot of people say it’s getting to be your own boss, which is certainly true! I’ve worked full-time in various design and marketing roles in small and big companies where I’ve gained so much work experience. It’s allowed me to grow my business without too much risk, so I’ve re-invested all my profits into my business. Now, winning the award, I feel more confident than ever to take the next step and go full-time with freelancing in the near future.
Studying a subject I was very passionate about only fuelled that passion even further and made becoming a freelancer photographer feel attainable. Many people questioned whether doing a creative arts degree would be a "waste of time" or felt that there would be no jobs in the industry and that I’d be better off studying a traditional subject for better career prospects. I’m very happy that I didn’t listen, and I carefully chose a university that would be able to invest in my future. While studying photography, I learnt so many technical, creative, theoretical skills that really diversified my understanding.
Yes! The photography course was varied and had so many brand new and high-tech resources to use, creative projects to get involved with and high-quality teaching and seminars throughout the course to keep you creatively stimulated. I particularly loved the new photography books in the library, the colour darkrooms and the Hasselblad scanners.
I would say the Penta Prism student book launch and seeing all that hard work and creative vision come to life. When the course lecturers, the head of art and design and my fellow students congratulated me, it was a great feeling and, topping it off, a special mention by the Vice-Chancellor at the graduation ceremony was a particular highlight.
Although achieving a degree is a fantastic accomplishment, the industry is very competitive, especially in the creative world. To stand out, I’d recommend getting involved in as many projects, workshops and courses as you can, or start your own initiative while studying and over the holidays to increase your employability chances. It’s never too early to get ready for life after university, so build your work experience and portfolio pieces as much as you can. It’s good to keep an eye out for opportunities, so keeping in regular contact with your network or joining new groups, such as societies, to build your contacts would be a good place to start. There are often lots of great opportunities you can find on social media, so having a good web presence is ideal.