An evening with Emma Cartwright - "The challenges of teaching photography", 9th October 2023

A review by Janine Scola
Emma’s interest in photography started at an early age, with the encouragement of her father and helpfully, the use of his cameras! Time progressed, as did her understanding of the subject taking her to university and the world of art and design. Work experience whilst on her course helped make her decision to teach the very subject she studied. And today she is a contemporary artist and Subject Leader of Art & Design, including Photography, at Budmouth Academy in Weymouth.

Through various slides, Emma talked about how the course is implemented at the Academy, and how this had to be heavily adapted for students during the Covid lockdown, alongside encouraging their input - and concentration – at a distance, of what was required to ensure they achieved their ‘pass’! Emma referred to Years 9 through to Year 11 and how the course had to be modified for each of these year groups with the funding available in the education sector and at the Academy – in essence a ‘big ask’ from the little expenses allocated. However, this is very much helped by the donation of camera equipment, film and accessories, which are all put to good use.

As well as students taking photos, either with their own Iphones or the use of a camera, a lot of the work would involve the access of computers, but with the online course work provided this aided students to access their work and the use of such editing tools as Photoshop, to help them produce their individual portfolios which we were able to peruse.

Inevitably there are those students who will put in the work required in the short time scale available to them before their final assessment ‘deadline’ and there are a few who think they can ‘wing it’! Emma highlighted one such student, who with her guidance and cajoling managed to inspire this young man to produce the work needed – of which he was very capable of doing – and eventually achieved his dream to gain a good pass to enable him to go on and study fashion design.

A very different evening, giving us an insight and understanding of the available courses for the younger generation – not dreamed of when we were all at school – but also the tremendous effort and dedication of the teachers to encourage students to apply themselves to the topic they have chosen and ultimately, their desire to take it further as a possible career.

A wonderful subject – but would we want to teach it in this day and age? – that is the question !!

~ Janine Scola