Mark Powell: following his passion

We caught up with photography student Mark Powell to find out why he chose to study photography and how the course has benefited him.

Mark Powell is a photographer and is currently finishing his Postgraduate Certificate in photography. Mark worked in Banking/Financial services for 41 years. He says that he became seriously interested in photography "whilst working in Hong Kong in 2011/2012". 

Imperial War Museum Salford Quays. Image courtesy Mark Powell.

Before enrolling in the course, Mark was spending his time fundraising for multiple charities, both local and nationally. "My wife and I are also active members of a Photography club, and both have a passion for photography. We would describe ourselves as enthusiastic amateurs."


Choosing the course

His photography passion has led him to attend many workshops and even a field trip to Sorrento, Italy. Inspired by three Photography Club members and looking to improve his skills, he enrolled in a photography course. "I wanted to improve all aspects of my photography, composition, lighting, creativity, as I felt my pictures were very much run of the mill. I had not studied photography academically before enrolling."

Mark explained that he decided to enroll at the Academy of Photography because of the course topics and the opportunity to have guidance from professional photographers. "The syllabus was varied and included the history of photography which I had never studied before. The opportunity to receive support via an experienced Photographer/Tutor was a key part of my decision-making. Plus, the ability to share knowledge, best practice, and learn with other students was appealing too."

Behind the band Chester. Image courtesy Mark Powell.


The Postgraduate Certificate student says that the course fitted in nicely with his day-to-day and that the lockdown helped him to devote time to "reading more about photography and photographers, completing the assignments, and wandering around the village and surrounding areas with my camera, undertaking a few small projects.", Mark explained.

Northern quarter. Image courtesy Mark Powell.


The first assignment

Even though he was nervous about submitting his first assignment, Mark believes it was essential to understand which skills and areas he needed to improve.

"This was my first time in pulling a piece of work together in a “Visual Diary” and labeling images plus undertaking lots of research! I found the “How to” guides very clear and helpful, so I did not feel the need to seek additional support. I achieved a pass for assignment one, but this set me a baseline on which to build and improve on."

Toungoo Myanmar - Call to Arms (rice 7am). Image courtesy Mark Powell.



Following his passion

Mark told us that he bought his first camera, a Leica D Lux 5, in 2011 from a little camera shop in central Hong Kong. He then booked to go on a secret Tour of Kowloon with a bunch of photography enthusiasts. "I took my camera to work every day and shot over 1200 photographs during my six months out there. Anything from street, seascapes, abstracts, shadows."

Secret Tour of Kowloon. Image courtesy Mark Powell.



He explained that he enrolled in the course to follow his passion and learn more about photography. "Enrolling on the course was not to pursue a new career. For me, it was more about learning, gaining experience, confidence, and progression.

I believe the course has helped direct my energy down the photojournalist and documentary route, which I am really embracing. I now shoot in raw, on manual and use Lightroom for post-processing."

Cig break, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Mark Powell.


What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Photography?

"Lets’ be realistic; having a successful career in photography will be hard, but not impossible. Go out and take many bad pictures, then focus on the best 2 or 3 and understand why these are the best, then repeat that process on your next shoot.

Pre-visualize what you want to shoot; it saves time and effort. Get your work critiqued regularly. Experiment with all the genres and styles, and then decide which you enjoy the most; you might be surprised!"

Oils and water abstract; ICM - Lake District trees. Image courtesy Mark Powell.


Favorite project to date

"I have enjoyed a lot of the assignments, but my overall favorite was assignment 14 - to document the theme of Photography and Social Wellbeing.

From the research to developing a concept to sketching, storyboarding, and finally taking and presenting the shots. I am proud of this work and the concept "Behind the Mask," and I can see how far I’ve come by the images' quality." 

The pressure to wear makeup and the impact it can have on self-esteem and mental health. So which image is the more socially acceptable and why?

Behind the mask. Image courtesy Mark Powell.


"I look back with a huge sense of pride and satisfaction. My knowledge, skills, planning, and ideas are so much better now than before I started. I’d like to think my pictures are better too!

I would certainly recommend the course to everyone who's looking to gain a professional photography qualification. There are so many new skills to learn, to support future opportunities in this field.", says Mark Powell.


Inspired by Mark's story and looking to follow your passion for photography? Take a look at our full list of courses and start your learning journey today!

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Written by: Ines Tome

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