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Photography is Ryan’s Passport to the World

While taking a gap year after school to figure out what he wanted with his life, Ryan O’Carroll kept returning to his passion for taking photos. 

“I enjoyed working with cameras while studying film in high school, and I had a passion for taking landscape and portrait photos on my phone,” said Ryan. 

Deciding that career in photography was his calling, Ryan enrolled in the Diploma of Photography and Digital Imaging (CUA50920) at TAFE Queensland to level up his photography game and is amazed at how much there is to learn.

“I came here to learn the skills needed to capture someone's emotions and try to retell their story. But when I started studying, I realised I didn’t even know how to use a professional camera properly.”

“Still, thanks to this unique learning environment, I’m quickly learning everything I need to know,” explains Ryan.

Throughout his course, Ryan is learning specialised photography and image editing skills he needs to work as a professional photographer – and thanks to his teachers and the world-class studios and industry-standard equipment, his skills are improving with every class.

“The studios at TAFE Queensland have top-of-the-range flashes, lights, tripods, lenses, and other specialist equipment for students to learn on - and it’s a creative environment to study in.”

“My teachers are always there to listen and answer our questions, and I always ask way too many questions, but they're always helpful and explain how things work.”

“They link the theory with the practical in each class by presenting a new concept on a PowerPoint, and then we perform the task. Figuring out how to use that concept you just learned and how to make it your own and share it with the class is a fun challenge,” he explains.

Having classmates who share his passion for photography and determination to improve with each class is rounding out Ryan's training through friendly competition.

“Being around amazing, supportive, friendly like-minded people from different backgrounds who share the same passion is excellent for my learning.” 

“They challenge my work in a supportive way and remind me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things by focussing on what I want to do and trying different photography techniques to branch out and not get the tunnel vision,” explained Ryan.

Also helping Ryan to become a professional photographer is that his course was offered under Fee-Free TAFE Funding – making study accessible for him.

"The Fee-Free TAFE funding was an awesome bonus, and it meant I could study without any debt while allowing me to buy a sophisticated camera to use while learning professional photography skills from TAFE’s amazing teachers,” he said.

Fee-Free TAFE funding is part of the Queensland Government's Good People. Good jobs: Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022–2032. It aims to connect, educate and attract the people needed to meet the state's workforce demand in existing and new industry sectors to support continued economic growth.

With approximately 37,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational education and training places available in 2023, the program will support Queenslanders to skill up to meet the state's current and future workforce needs by enabling them to complete selected qualifications at no or low cost.

Now creating a body of his creative work, Ryan’s confidence in his photography skills and knowledge has grown thanks to the guidance of his teachers, who are also teaching him the business side of photography.

“I’m learning how to make my brand and selling my services through a website I’m designing to show my work,” he explained.

With the skills and ability to work for himself from anywhere in the world, Ryan looks forward to travelling after completing his studies.

“Not having course fees means I can travel to Europe at the end of my course. I plan on seeing the world and capturing amazing landscapes, street art and portrait photos for my portfolio – and I can’t wait!” concluded Ryan.