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Highlights of studying at ARU & Experience so far in the industry - Jemima Willcox ARU Photography graduate 

  1. What school/college/university did you go to before coming to ARU?

I’m originally from London and went to Sir George Monoux college in Walthamstow. When I moved to Cambridge, I did a year at CRC and then a Btech national diploma at Huntingdon regional college. I took the long way round with my education!
 

  1. What do you hope to do when you graduate from ARU?

I really wanted to go into being a full time photographer. I even very nearly did this when I graduated. It involved moving to Manchester in the middle of winter but I ended up working in car insurance call centres. The freelance dream wasn’t close to what I thought it would be!

Fast forward 10 years, and half of that time has been spent developing and growing my photography and videography business. My degree really gave me time to explore lots of different options and avenues I could go down.

  1. What one thing (piece of art, writing, design, music, historical event etc) inspired you to do get into your current field of study?

I’ve always been passionate about Art, and this developed into a love of photography. I’ve been inspired by the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and discovered Nan Goldin at college.

Being able to capture something raw and full of emotion has been a driver for me. To put that all into one captured moment is such a beautiful thing. This led me to focus my attention on people. I’ve always been fascinated with the strange, weird, outcasts of society and most recently the way powerful women are portrayed.

I’m on a personal mission to change the narrative on what a strong woman looks like.

Now I’ve moved into the moving image, things are so different!

  1. What's the most valuable thing you will take away from your education?

That we will never stop learning! University was a gateway to experiences which I’ve learnt from and gave me life experience I don’t think I would have got anywhere else.

I really enjoyed having such top class equipment at my disposal and it was a shock when I left uni!

There where opportunities presented to me and support, I wouldn’t have gotten from elsewhere. Close to the end of my degree was a challenging time for my mental health, with support from ARU I persevered and graduated.

  1. Which aspects of your course have most helped your career development, and why?

Honestly, it was a long time ago! I got to take part in the now defunct Apex student newspaper as a photographer and then the picture editor. There were opportunities I snapped up with TEDx and utilising my student loan to fly to Arizona in my first year to photograph a Sci Fi convention!

Being able to have hands on experience in the photography studios gave me the skills and ability to run my business today. Having tutors who aren’t afraid to give you honest feedback and support when you need it. Having the opportunity to try different things.

I’m dedicated to supporting students from ARU and strongly believe in giving back the support I received when I was doing my course.

  1. What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Be patient! Everything doesn’t have to happen all at once. Enjoy the journey and know in the future people will call you inspiring and tell you how impressed they are of your work.

  1. What is your favourite thing about studying in Cambridge, and what have you discovered about the city that you didn't know before?

I lived in Cambridge before I chose to study at ARU, I’ve left and returned many times as Cambridge has a habit of clawing you back and not letting you leave! I’m glad I came back. I have a successful business, a loving husband and business partner along with a very cheeky cat!

  1. What projects are you currently working on, both on and off the course?

We’ve just celebrated 5 years in business with showcasing our most recent project; 493 Days A Story of Women’s Resliance.

A recent Deloitte survey of 400 women in seven countries found that 82% of the women surveyed said their lives has been negatively disrupted by the pandemic.

This made me question where were the women who have developed resilience which led them to make positive changes in their lives during this time?

I aim to interview and photograph 100 women sharing their stories of strength, courage, adaptation, and overcoming challenges in the last 18 months.

We’ve just completed series one and will run this project through 2022 completing a total of four series.

If you’d like to take part, please fill in this form: https://bit.ly/2TdDiKm

Alongside this we’re looking to grow our business The Willcox Collective to cover all the UK by 2026! We’re always looking for new people to join the collective. This means we’re doing a lot of growing – exciting times!