New Column: The Norwich Resident

For the last couple of months I've been writing a column in the local glossy style bible The Norwich Resident.  The Column is called My Norwich which is perfect for me as it means I can chat about anything and everything really. There's still a week left to read the May issue which is available FREE online. If you're in Norwich you can grab a copy from lots of places including U and Your Skin, Jane Richards and Hairsmiths

The May issue is The Art issue and so I'm chatting about some of the amazing art we have in Norwich plus events coming up including British Art Show 8 and the Norwich University of the Arts  (NUA) Degree Shows.  I'm VERY excited about both of these, perhaps more so the degree shows just because I'll get to see the final work of some of the people who have been really helpful and nice to me during uni and also because next year it will be my turn to be part of the degree show.  O.M.G 

The cover is shot by recent NUA grad Anna, an incredibly creative visual artist who creates scenes in Photoshop like a painter creates them on a canvas. Her work is fine art and so for The Art issue of the magazine she's sharing pieces she's been producing during her final year. Anna will be showing her work at the NUA degree show and I can wait to see them up close. 

The NUA photography grads are also showing at Free Range in London. All this inspiration plus Graduate Fashion Week coming up too means my diary is chocca with stuff to do. So no lazy summer for me. I'm rubbish at being bored anyway...
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Cameras and Inspo

I've been asked a few questions following last week's blog post about going to uni to study photography. Mainly about what cameras I work with and some recommendation for things to read.

So I'll start with what I shoot with. These aren't reviews or recommendations, these is simply a list of what I work with.

I shoot with digital and film. I learned on film, well actually I grew up using film because digital wasn't invented then! From what I see from my fellow students there is a huge interest in learning film now. I'm glad to see it's experiencing a new wave of users and if you're on Instagram or Twitter a quick search of #filmsnotdead  #shootfilmstaybroke  #shootfilmstaypoor will bring up thousands of images from film shooters.

I no longer worry that I don't have this camera or that camera. Digital changes so fast now and new cameras are brought out all the time. So I'm pretty relaxed and experimental about what I shoot with.  That said, my main camera is a digital SLR - I use a Nikon D610. My main lens is a Nikon 70-120 which I absolutely love and it serves me well on fashion and gig shoots. My camera before that was a Nikon D3100 which I still have, it's a handy back up and depending on the shoot, it can be handy to work with two cameras. 


Reading - I read/look at all sorts. Books, blogs, websites, digital magazines and I've been working with magazine.co.uk on their Hub area - which means I've have a Magazine subscription to Black and White Photohgraphy mag. This is always an interesting source to look through as you can not only see what other people are shooting but often there will be artist features which are great not just for the inspiration but to make you think about your own work too. 

I'm quite lucky that over the years I've bought loads of photography and art books in charity shops too. I try and browse the book shelves of my local chaz boutiques when ever I can and I look beyond the 'hobby' section and have a mooch through the art section too.

SHOWstudio, Hunger, Dazed and Confused Jute  and Feature Shoot (just to name a few) are always full of interviews, galleries and artists to discover.

In terms of film, I will literally shoot with any rolls of film I can get my hands on including expired stuff on Ebay and film from Poundland. Often my film work looks at the fragility of the film itself, I'm interested in the results achieved from damaging the film and camera wise I will shoot with anything and I mean anything. I've a lot of cameras from charity shops and I love the plastic 80s point and shoot cameras and disposable cameras too. 

35mm film 

 Going to uni has really helped push me away from the feeling that you have to have the best of the best equipment. You don't. It's what you make, not what you make it with. I'm still using a Nikon camera I bought in 2004 and I bought a couple more Nikons on Ebay. So I shoot with quite few different ones. 

I'm playing with Polaroids, I have a couple of cameras I've picked up from Ebay but I wouldn't say I've created anything that's amazed be so far, it's not easy to do the practice make perfect thing work when the film is so expensive... if anyone has tips on shooting with old Polaroid cameras feel free to send them my way. 

I suppose no post would be complete without mentioning phones and tablets, and yep I use those too, not just for social media updates of what's for dinner or in my glass but for my actual photography work too. 

This was on my old phone and I loved the rough, textural quality the camera on the phone gave me. I'm not really about curating the world in perfectly polished way. I've learned that I don't really roll like that.

I shot behind the scenes at The Dipple and Conway Hair Show at Norwich Fashion Week 2016 with my iPad. 

One of my submissions pieces during year two at uni was something I'd taken on my phone and edited on my ipad and I never ever would have thought I'd be doing that when I started uni but we're encouraged to experiment and these are tools I want to use as a creative. I'll never be 100% digital or 100% film - each has qualities I want to harness so I don't feel I need to choose a 'side' to be on really.
A video posted by Kerry Curl (@kerrycurl) on

I haven't done a give away for ages, I think I'll get some disposable cameras as prizes and we'll have a couple of winners maybe.... Watch this space! 

I have separate social media accounts for my photography work. You can find me on twitter - @KerryCurl_and instagram - kerrycurl if you fancy saying hello. 

A video posted by Kerry Curl (@kerrycurl) on
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Being a 30 something at uni

This is in no way going to be a 'how to guide' - people's circumstances and situations can vary and there is no one size fits all guide to survival.

I'm now at the end of my second year at university and so begins the gap before I start the final year of my degree. The final year. I won't lie, I'm scared and sad that it's coming to an end and amazed that (touch wood) it looks like I'm going to make it. 

It's been a very tough few years, tough but in a life changing sort of amazing way.  So here's my thoughts about going to uni from my own perspective as a 30 something on an arts course. 

If you're not sure about applying get in touch with a uni for a chat

I have to credit my husband for making me believe that going to university was something I could even consider doing. His belief in my work helped me take those first baby steps in to even thinking this was something I could do. We attended an open day to have a look round. Most potential  students had parents with them and I'd taken my husband! But it was good to have that support. 

University's will have open days where you can have a tour around the facilities, talk to students and listen to talks by tutors. It's an excellent way to get a taste of what university could offer you. 

I will probably remember this day for the rest of my life because as I sat in the lecture hall listening to a talk I got that achingly heavy feeling behind my eyes and I had to try not cry. I just felt so overwhelmed at the thought that I might be able to do it but also the realisation that I might not. It was such a beautiful day in Norwich and afterwards we sat on some steps eating huge slices of pizza whilst pondering what I'd just experienced. 

I contacted the university and arranged an informal chat with them. This was before I'd even begun the application process. This gave me an opportunity to see if it was even worth me applying.

Don't be put off if you don't have A levels 

I haven't. I have three City and Guilds qualifications in Photography which I've achieved through adult education courses but that's a bonus not an essential. My interview was about the potential my portfolio showed.

Applying is no-ones business but yours...

If you go public with the fact you are applying it's up to you. In the social media driven world of 'share your dinner, share your soul and whilst your at it share today's choice of knickers' it can feel like you have to share your every waking moment, every life choice, every success and every fail. 

New flash you don't.

If you're scared to apply in case you don't make it (this time) and you're worried about telling people you're going to have another run at it then just don't go public with it until you feel you have something you want to to announce.

By the time I started uni I'd still only told about 6 people. 

Prepare for envy

Envy towards what you're doing won't always be to sent your way to make you feel bad. The education system as it stands at the moment means that if you already have a degree (which you probably decided to do at 18, because at that age you know EXACTLY where the rest of your life is going, right?) cost implications means people often can't do another degree. 

I've had people say to me they are so envious because they'd love to go to uni and do a different degree from the one they did (or barely did) when they had the opportunity. This makes me sad. 
It also make me want to make the most of every minute. At 18 I probably wouldn't have done so. That's NOT saying that it's only mature students who realise there's potentially only one bite of this cherry. I'm just saying that older students might sometimes have a higher 'tick, tick, tick' perspective on life. 

I'm almost twice the age of the younger students who are in uni straight from A levels. That alone is a very scary reminder in how fast time goes. 

Not everyone may be supportive

Envy is sometimes just envy. It's highly likely that you haven't gone to uni to piss someone else off. The fact that they appear pissed off, threatened or dismissive says more about them than you. Had they have taken another approach, it's likely you'd share learnings and experiences with them. But if they act like an arse, then my advice is to move on and move past it.

Yes the debt is a bit scary but...

I try and think of it more as a tax which I will slowly repay through my earnings. In an ideal world education would be free like it was for the many who have passed through the education system before us. But it isn't and realistically now we're on this tuition fee machine I can't see fees ever being abolished. I do think the system needs to change, I don't know what the answer is. I will begin paying my £30K plus debt back once I begin earning over £21K (under the current rules...)  

The best person to explain this is Money Saving Expert Guru Martin Lewis. If you click this link he'll explain it all in full. 

It's Hard

It's REALLY hard. It's also bloody stressful. Some people think an arts degree is wishy washy, not as important as maths, law, medicine etc. An easy choice and a way to bum a few years away. 

I no longer even bother to argue with these people. If that's what they think then so be it. ANY degree is consuming. If you want to get great things out of it you have to put a lot of yourself in to it. As part of my degree I have to record my work, the research, the theory, the successes, the failures, my hopes and my fears. Making images has been just one part of my degree so far. My work in all it's formats helps me build up a bigger picture and a better understanding of what kind of artist I am and what kind of artist I hope to become. 

You question everything, you question yourself which also means you doubt yourself and worry if you're good enough and even capable. I've realised this is normal. Whatever your age. 

 I once sobbed in the bath until the water went cold, I was full of doubts and frustrations about an essay I was finding it hard to write and I've had nights where I can't switch my brain off to go to sleep because I'm so excited about the results of a shoot, or a piece or research that's sparked an idea. I guess you have to experience the lows to allow yourself the wonderful feeling of the highs. 

So, uni life isn't about sitting around in PJ's drinking cheap cider. Who knew? 


Oh my god. It's REALLY amazing. In many ways I'm so glad I didn't do it sooner, now feels the right time. And yes learning as much as I can is bloody hard going at times but mainly it's exciting, challenging and excellent. It's joyous and I feel very very lucky. 

 As I type this post I am 39. I am pushing myself to be the best me I can be. I'm not going to university because there's any pressure to do it because it's the next step in education or because of family pressures and expectations. I'm doing for me. 

This all for me and deciding to do this is one of the best decisions I have ever made. (Remind me I said this when I'm crying about the stress of writing my dissertation!)  

Edited to highlight an interesting comment left by Pixieanna on this post. Obviously I'm chatting about an arts degree but Pixieanna is studying nursing and says

"I am the same age as you are and I'm on course to finish my 1st year at uni (nursing, if you're interested). I agree with this post but I would like to add that it is always worth asking about finances. I did a degree (Creative Arts) at 18 and I wondered about getting finance but I had no problem getting a student loan. Even though I declared it they didn't seem bothered. The NHS pay my fees and provide a miniscule bursary but I get a loan to top it up"

In case it helps, student finance info can be found here (UK) https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/who-qualifies

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