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Student Stories: Kathryn Hall

Kathryn Hall worked as a chartered accountant in North West England for 30 years then decided to pack in work for other challenges. She recently completed both Investigating Place Psychogeography and Photography as Language, two of OCA’s short courses. Find out more about short courses here.

Here Kathryn tells us about her learning journey.


What is your previous educational experiences and what drew you to OCA?

Over recent years I have done an MA in Art History with the OU, both of the RPS/OU photography courses and Level One Photography at evening class. I joined the RPS and then during the pandemic I progressed to Photography Levels 2, 3 and HNC online. I was not too keen on spending a lot of time progressing to HND or Degree level in Photography so had a year off from photography courses. I had noticed the OCA short courses advertised by the RPS and felt that they looked interesting and they became the next courses to try.

Can you describe your OCA journey?

For the Photography as Language course despite having studied photography and art history I was worried that I was out of my depth as fundamentally I am a numbers person rather than a words person. At first it was difficult to get my mind around some of the concepts. However as the course progressed things began to fall into place. The most difficult aspect was knowing that I should omit my favourite image as it did not fit in with the rest for my final project.

For the Investigating Place Psychogeography course I was not sure what to expect. I approached the course from the point of view of a photographer, however many of the participants were artists and photographic images were only part of their approach. I did wonder if I should have done something in addition to photographs. Perhaps the hardest part was reducing the number of images for my final project.

What was the Tutor and/or Peer Support like on your course?

For the Photography as Language course, course leader Ariadne Xenou was excellent at allowing the cohort to discuss issues to try to reach our own understanding but had a brilliant way of steering us when necessary. This was a great approach and helped us develop our own understanding. I my case she made me realise that if the favourite image does not fit it should be left out. During the weekly assignments the cohort provided comments on each others work.

For the Investigating Place Psychogeography course, the course leader Garry Clarkson was always keen to help and provide support in getting to grips with the Padlet software. In the end it was not too complex once everything fell into place. Having thought I had produced my 'final project' I soon realised that I had too much material and needed to cut back. The cohort provided comments on the work we had done. It was interesting to see the range of work which others were doing.

What does studying with OCA mean to you?

For the Photography as Language course it made me think more before making images, the colours, monochrome, angles, content and output medium. Does the image have a story to tell? Is it something a bit different? It has certainly made me think before pressing the shutter.

For the Investigating Place Psychogeography course it has taught me that even areas that you think you know well have something new to reveal. Instead of photographing the obvious, I now look more closely for details and the 'less photographed'.

What's next?

The two OCA courses do not require advanced photography so I did not have to spent much time editing images. I am now looking to improve my Photoshop skills and putting together sets of images. Wish there was another OCA course to get stuck into.

Any advice?

Just have a go, do not worry about getting anything wrong as there is no right or wrong. You can see what others on the course are doing which you can use as a reference point.

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