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Empowering future-ready graduates–  Bridging the Gap series transforms Commercial Photography education

Updated: Jun 12

by Gerrit Bester

 

The Department of Visual Communication’s Commercial Photography programme at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) was buzzing with excitement during a two-day Bridging the Gap series. The initiative aims to bring industry and academia closer together, equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate the dynamic world of work and emerge as future-ready graduates.

 

The series kicked off with long-time staff member, Dr Flip du Toit, who shed light on his Master's thesis on sandstone architecture, weaving tales of analogue photography and the intricate hand printing process.

 

Thato Mabena, an alum and former part-time lecturer, gave students a closer look at the industry, focusing on the key role of a photographic assistant. Mabena stressed the importance of cultivating industry relationships early on to set the stage for successful work-based learning placements. He also stressed the importance of attitude and hard work, including the role of the assistant as the lynchpin for smooth operations on set.

 

Corlia Ziehl and FUJIFILM South Africa showcased the versatility and lightweight advantage of its Instax, X-series and printers, igniting the students' enthusiasm during an engaging session of hands-on exploration and photographic fun.

 

On the second day, Nazreen Herman of Portside Consulting discussed the appeal of recruiting photographers from Southern Africa, emphasising our cultural diversity and language skills. She focused on the life of a cruise ship photographer where hard work is non-negotiable.

 

The role offers the opportunity to travel the world, gain experience and earn a good income. Herman’s insights were encouraging and highlighted the exciting opportunities in cruise ship photography.

 

Celeste McKenzie from Vega captivated the students with her presentation: Thread the Needle, which explored her social documentary work rooted in her passion for landscape, infrared and travel photography.

 

McKenzie underlined the unique opportunity students have to capture authentic stories, always reminding them to respect the people they photograph.

 

Her engaging anecdotes about her photographs, made possible only by her deep knowledge of her subjects, left students both laughing and inspired. A key takeaway from McKenzie’s session was the importance of listening to real stories, not just what people think you want to hear. Authentic storytelling, she said, is crucial.


The series was concluded with an inspiring session led by Emmy Photography. Emmy Aromokundu shared his meticulous planning process, detailing how he selects his lighting setups and the critical role of effective client communication to ensure he brings the right equipment.In a hands-on demonstration, Aromokundu demonstrated the use of Godox Speedlites and strobes, giving practical examples of his lighting techniques. He also emphasised the importance of clear communication with models during a session to achieve the best results.


"In a world where visual communication is paramount, the Department of Visual Communication (Commercial Photography) is focused on bridging the gap between industry and academia. The series was not just a series of presentations, but a transformative journey that exposed students to different equipment and methods, equipping them with the skills and tools necessary to excel in the dynamic field of commercial photography," said lecturer Monique du Plessis, who organised the event with her colleague, Hein Grové.

 

"We are already looking forward to planning the next one."


Dr Flip du Toit shed light on his Master's thesis on sandstone architecture

1.Dr Flip du Toit shed light on his Master's thesis on sandstone architecture.

 

Thato Mabena, an alum and former part-time lecturer, gave students an insight into the industry

2.Thato Mabena, an alum and former part-time lecturer, gave students an insight into the industry, focusing on the key role of a photographic assistant.

 

Corlia Ziehl and FUJIFILM South Africa showcased the versatility and lightweight advantage of its Instax, X-series and printers

3.Corlia Ziehl and FUJIFILM South Africa showcased the versatility and lightweight advantage of its Instax, X-series and printers.


Celeste McKenzie from Vega captivated the students with her presentation: Thread the Needle

4.Celeste McKenzie from Vega captivated the students with her presentation: Thread the Needle, which explored her social documentary work rooted in her passion for landscape, infrared and travel photography.

 

Emmy Aromokundu shared his meticulous planning process

5. Emmy Aromokundu shared his meticulous planning process, detailing how he selects his lighting setups and the critical role of effective client communication to ensure he brings the right equipment.

 

Nazreen Herman of Portside Consulting discussed the appeal of recruiting photographers from Southern Africa

6. Nazreen Herman of Portside Consulting discussed the appeal of recruiting photographers from Southern Africa.

 

Towards future ready graduates: Commercial Photography students attending the two-day Bridging the Gap series

7. Towards future ready graduates: Commercial Photography students attending the two-day Bridging the Gap series.

 

PHOTOS: Monique du Plessis and Mike Schmucker

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