Free Range – Graduate Degree Show

6th July – 10th July 2017

As part of our professional development as emerging photographers, a small group from our course were offered a place to exhibit our work in a top London graduate show. Free Range is an Old Truman Brewery production, aiming to showcase graduate talent from a variety of courses at many universities in the UK. It is exciting to know that I will be exhibiting along side many talented others, that a wider audience will be viewing my work and it could potentially kick start my photography career. There is also the exciting idea that I could potentially meet others who are also working on tackling the stigma attached to disability; meaning we can combat the issue faster.

The University of Cumbria has selected 24 artists from BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Fine Art, and joined us together – naming our exhibition Modern Love. This title was chose for us by the University – as they are in control of the finance of the space and the curating of the show. As this is a large show where professionalism is key, I believe their control of the way in which we present our selves to the world is a good idea.

The work I will be displaying in the show will be my FMP – Disability Talks. For the show self-promotion is also necessary, meaning people can contact you in the future if interested. Because of this, I will be creating my own marketing material in case of any interest in my work. We are currently in the early stages of developing marketing material as a group however, watch this space!

Further Study

After receiving an interesting talk from the Principal of the University of Cumbria earlier in the semester, I have increasingly thought about further study – in particular, the Photography MA. Achieving an MA in photography would advance my photographic skills and my theoretical knowledge; making my skill set greater and therefore more attractive to potential employers. I had always intended to study photography, but after studying my BA (Hons) Photography, I have a desire to learn more.

During the talk, Roddy Hunter (Head of Department, Institute of the Arts) explained and explored the benefits of the an MA, as part of the Futures Festival. He introduced the other courses at the university which had an MA on offer. These included MA Contemporary Fine Art, MA Creative Practice and MA Fashion Textiles. As my background is predominantly photography and fine art based I believed it would be sensible to pursue this root. Although the courses were interesting and would give me ample opportunity to study and work with other mediums – I enjoy practising photography too much!

I decided to bite the bullet and apply for MA Photography. The link to the course outline can be found at the end of this post. The course is split into two sections, 70% practical and the remaining theory based. This means that I can continue to explore disability in photography further and continue to increase it’s position in photography.

The application required details on past experiences and qualifications, as well as a personal statement. The statement that I provided is shown below:

Photography is a subject that has been an interest for many years – whether it be producing photographs or researching and exploring the topics. Using photography allows me to communicate my ideas and make them accessible to the wider population, and change public perceptions.

As a woman with a physical disability, photography has been a successful way to communicate my view of the world to the world. Disability and photography is something that has not been greatly explored until recent years, and I would like to participate in this investigation. During my studies at the University of Cumbria, I have begun to investigate the relationship between photography and disability and how it can be improved. This was carried out both on a photographic level through challenging the way in which we perceive disability and a theoretical level through carrying out an extensive dissertation exploring this concept.

Exploring and expanding my photographic skill and knowledge is something that I wish to achieve by completing the MA Photography course. This would then enable myself to tackle topics with more vigorously and communicate the ideas and concepts more effectively.

This also would open doors to potential teaching careers to help young photographers, who are in the same position as I once was.

The feedback on whether or not I have been successful is provided in 4-6 weeks. Following this news, I will either be offered an interview or declined a place. I decided this is the better option due to my health, as I will be able to achieve the best I can whilst also receiving the medical help I require.

Futures Festival – Teaching

I attended a workshop organised by the university in order to learn about how to access teaching. The talk showed the two main routes that would be possible to take after graduation; a PGCE which is a years course with a short placement or the school direct route which is predominantly placement based. As the university does not currently offer the PGCE in Art and Design (the specialism needed to be able to teach photography), then the advised route into gaining my QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) would be to take the school direct route.

The school direct route is again a years course where the student trains in the classroom based in a working school. This would provide invaluable experience and allow to be tutored by those who have taught for many years. This is something that I wish to do, however I feel as though I need to expand my art, design and photography portfolio first.

The requirements of the course, which is to be applied for through UCAS, is to have two weeks of classroom experience, (which can be achieved through supply teaching), a portfolio, a police background check or DBS, and to pass an English and maths test. As teaching is something that I have only begun to think about recently, to fit in all of this before applying is impossible. This is why I am going to do this over the next academic year, whilst also completing my MA in photography.

I also received information in the same seminar regarding the careers I can access with both a degree and masters in photography and a QTS – the list was extensive. The three that stood out the most were to teach in a school or college, to work with young offenders and to work with the council. Although the QTS only seemed to cover schools, the doors that it can open are vast. Gaining a QTS will also give valuable life experience if nothing else, and advance my skills and knowledge base.

To complete the QTS is next on my to do list after completing my photography MA. Although different from being a full time photographer, this is sensible in allowing myself to live comfortably and also practise my photography part time.

Redeye Mock Interview

As part of our professional development, we were required to undergo a mock interview for a job opening at the British photography firm, Redeye. Redeye is dedicated to providing advice, talks and support to emerging and established photographers in the UK. The job opening was for Assistant to Programme Coordinator.

In preparation for the interview, the Library and Student Services team provided a workshop on how to get the best out of interviews. In the workshop they discussed how we should always research the company, always draw back on previous experience, how you should act in an interview and how to answer questions to achieve the best. This workshop was helpful, however, I believe if we had had a mock of the mock interview we would have stood in better stead to achieve.

The job required someone who has a diverse skills set; someone who is a practicing photographer, good with IT, has good communication skills and has a grip on the position of the photographic industry. The workshop explored this, as well as potential questions that would arise in the interview. I have received the result of the mock interview, and received a 2:2. I have received my feedback and have been able to digest it and learn from where I went wrong. This will be valuable for the future, even if the job I am applying for is on the other end of the spectrum.

The Hadfield Trust Creative Travel Award

The Hadfield Trust Creative Travel Award is an award scheme which is available to university students up to the value of £500, to part fund an activity or travel which will enhance learning opportunities in the final year of study. I have applied for the award in order to partially fund the trip that I will be taking to Free Range.

The process requires a submission of a form that highlights the ins and outs of the trip. The form required an outline of the trip, how this will help your future career and learning and an outline of the financial implications of the trip. Below are the explanations that I gave in response to this.

I have been invited to be a part of a group exhibition with other photography and fine art students at the University of Cumbria. The exhibition is called Free Range. This is a collective show of graduate art and design courses in the UK. The exhibition will be shown at The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL. The exhibition space is already paid for by the university, and will enable our work to be viewed by potential employers from the photographic industry. The exhibition will be shown from 6th July 2017 to the 10th July 2017. However, I am also required to help with the installation of the exhibition on the evening of the 5th July and dismantle and pack the exhibition on the afternoon of the 10th July and the following day. Showing work in such a well regarded establishment for graduate photographers like myself will potentially kick-start my photographic career and allow for my work to be exhibited to a larger audience. This will help build my reputation and will also allow for networking with other photographers who are working with similar subject matter.

Due to my disability, going on self-funded trips are a lot harder due to my limited mobility and constant pain, as I can’t walk from place to place. As a result, I have often missed out on going to events and exhibitions. I receive a disability benefit, however, this will not cover the extra transport I will need when I get to London. I will need transport from the station to my hotel and from my hotel to the exhibition.

This is a fantastic opportunity that could really open up my career prospects as well as giving me invaluable exhibition experience.

By participating in this event, I will gain experience in both showing work in a large exhibition and invigilating an exhibition. Also, by showing the work to a large audience, some of whom are from the photographic industry, there is potential to kick start my photographic career. I will also be showing my work alongside other likeminded people, which will provide an excellent networking opportunity and the potential to collaborate with people working on similar topics to myself.

I have been shortlisted to be interviewed for this award. The next stage of the process is to attend an interview and presentation, where I will explain the plan for the trip.

Rachel Buxton CV

Rachel Buxton

Tel: 07598939147


Personal Profile

I am a photographer based in the Carlisle, UK. My photographic practice focuses on the portrayal of the disabled. As a disabled photographer, I believe that the perception of the disabled community needs improvement – which is what my photography aims to do. I am currently in the final year of BA (Hons) Photography at the University of Cumbria, where I have honed my skills in both digital and film photography. I am practiced at public speaking, often giving talks and demonstrations to a range of audiences on a variety of topics.


  • University of Cumbria: (2014 – Present) BA (Hons) Photography.
  • Trinity School Sixth Form: (2012 – 2014) Four A Levels A*-C including Photography and Art.
  • Richard Rose Central Academy: (2007 – 2012) 13 GCSE’s A-C including Photography, Art and English.

Employment and Experience

  • I Stand OUT: (2014 – Present) working as a photographer in a busy nightclub environment selling handmade keyrings. The job requires fast thinking, initiative and computer/camera skills.
  • Freelance Photographer: (2014 – Present) working on a commission based contracts, photographing weddings, events and retail interior. The commissions work requires me to be adaptable according to the situation. The commission work has been undertaken both with other photographer and solo.
  • 18th Carlisle Scout Group: (2010 – Present) As an Assistant Cub Scout Leader, I am required to lead and support activities that enhance the lives of the young people in our care. I have gained leadership skills, communication skills and organizational skills from my role with the scouting organization.
  • Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life: (2016) I volunteered at the museum, initially using photography to help upkeep the records. I also lead and supported school groups on trips to the museum.
  • Prism Arts: (2016) Working as a volunteer to support young adults with learning disabilities to express themselves through art and theatre.
  • Eden Valley Camera Club: (2017) I gave a talk based on my photographic projects and practice.


  • Photography
  • Art
  • Scouting
  • Exploring in the lake district
  • Working with people to achieve goals
  • Photographic and Art theory



Marion Proudfoot

Julie Wooding

(Contact details available on request)

Futures Festival – Job Fair

When exploring ideas of what to pursue post graduation, financial implications are the initial concern. I attended the job fair, where potential employers advertised potential agency work and summer work. As I intend to explore both a Photography MA and gaining a QTS, I spoke to a number of teaching agencies that promoted summer work and agency work. I also spoke to a company working in the photographic industry, as this is a potential career option. The following blog will explore the pros and cons of all of the information gained at this opportunity.

Cumbria Teaching Agency

Cumbria Teaching Agency offers temporary long and short-term cover to Nurseries, Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Pupil Referral Units, Special Educational Needs School, and Children’s Residential Care Homes. The agency is interested in hiring those both qualified and unqualified, as this will provide them with staff and allow for the gaining of experience whilst training (2 weeks of classroom experience is necessary to allow for entry on most courses.) The agency also advertises for staff to cover care and administrative roles.

Camp Cumbria is residential camp which offers a range of activities for children aged 4 to 15. The camp has two bases; one in Cockermouth and the other in Coniston. The agency have paid opportunities to help run activities and support the children. I spoke with Danielle Carlton, the Training and Recruitment Manager, who suggested that the camp would be good experience and also a way of financially supporting myself before I start either the Photography MA or a course to gain QTS.

I will be taking steps to contact the company in the coming weeks to organise some temporary teaching roles, as well as to apply to Camp Cumbria. I will do this through

Stephen Rowell Photography

Stephen Rowell Photography is a local commercial photographer offering bespoke wedding packages tailored to your particular wants and needs. Rowell’s website can be found here:

When attending events, functions and wedding fairs, Rowell described the importance of displaying everything that the customer would want to know; what previous work has been undertaken, how are the photographs presented and what camera kit you use. He highlighted that once the customer is interested in what you do, then they will most likely be willing to pay for your services.

Although wedding photography is not my particular area of interest, speaking with Rowell gave me an insight into the dedication and focus needed to become a commercial wedding photographer. However, the same presentation of work and business is what would be necessary if I was to display my work in a commercially based setting.


Inspira also pitched at the careers fair, offering the opportunity for summer work. Inspira are partners in running a nation wide residential course for school leavers, The National Citizen Service, giving them experience in team-working, independent living and working within the community. As a school leaver, I attended this programme and found it extremely helpful, both in allowing for some free time post exams and learning new skills. Whilst I participated in this programme, I found that the support from the leaders allowed the experience to jump to another level. There is an opportunity to become a leader in this programme and see it from another perspective. This would allow me to build confidence in preparation for teacher training and also to build up my skills in my CV.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car

Steering away from photography, there are a large amount of companies offering graduate schemes. If I wanted to take a break from photography, then getting a job through a graduate scheme would be sensible. Enterprise offers a graduate scheme, where you enter the company as a trainee manager and work up to becoming a manager. Although this offer seems attractive, I wish to pursue photography further.

NXT – Unique Recruitment Solutions

Signing up for an agency is also a possibly post graduation, as it allows a vast spectrum of jobs, which will then allow for a more experience. NXT are an agency which take on all kinds of staff to cover jobs; commercial, engineering, manufacturing, industrial and hospitality. The company offers long and short term solutions to employment for companies, which means that sometimes the opportunities won’t provide financial stability in the long run, which is important if I want to pursue a career in photography.

System People

System People offer a similar package to Cumbria Teaching Agency, however, they require all staff on the books to have the QTS. System People work by offering a range of full time and cover positions, depending on what suites you. This agency would potentially be very useful after gaining my QTS. I am in the process of organising a meeting to see what else they can offer. Watch this space!

Choose Cumbria

Choose Cumbria are another firm that offers job advertisements and information based on employment in the Cumbria area. As I am from the area, it is my personal preference to stay in the area. However, the jobs and opportunities do not link with my future career plans.

Old Fire Station Carlisle

The Old Fire Station is a hub of artistic activity ranging from performing arts, to contemporary art, to photography. As I draw nearer to graduating and displaying my work on my own, the Old Fire Station accepts proposals for exhibitions in the space. This is something that I am interested in doing, post graduation. Watch this space, more details to come!


Overall, the careers fair was interesting and helped broaden my employment horizon! Graduating now seems less daunting, and I will definitely be looking into signing up to some agencies post graduation and look further into summer employment.

University of Cumbria’s Future Festival 2017

The Careers and Employability Service organised an event where a number of talks and sessions were available to provide information and guidance in relation to further study and careers. There are a multitude of career paths and ways and means of achieving them, however, one must be proactive in creating this: allowing for fewer pitfalls.

Networking was brought to the forefront of the event as it can allow for the support network around you to strengthen, opening new doors to new opportunities. The event showcased a range of different agencies with offers of advice and future job prospects. The chosen career path is to embark on the Photography MA and then train to gain QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). This would then allow myself to teach photography at a higher level and also have some flexibility with the types of jobs that are accessible with the qualifications.

The following posts will explore the information given both through leaflets and through the talks. I will explore how useful the information is and the further steps that I will take based on this.