Developing a drastic change of direction

BA (Hons) Photography student Dave shares how Clearing was the platform for a spontaneous career change

4 min read

“I was working a full-time job, happily earning a salary, when changes in the company left my position uncertain. This turn of events was the motivation I needed to go to university to pursue something I enjoy and seize control of my career. I wanted to follow my dreams.”

Dave Burt

BA (Hons) Photography

My brother was asking me ‘are you sure you want to do this? It’s pretty late…’ My answer was resolute – I have to do it. There was definitely a now-or-never feeling behind applying to get into university when I did.

I was helped through the application process by the University, pointed in the direction of useful advice and resources, and sent helpful emails throughout. This was great for me personally – I was working nine to five, five days a week so I needed all the help I could get to make the Clearing process easier around my busy schedule.

I had my heart set on the city for years. I used to visit my brother in Plymouth every summer – going surfing, enjoying the ocean and absorbing the South West’s culture. I instinctively gravitated towards Plymouth thanks to my positive memories and was the only university I applied to.


Why photography?

Photography has been a hobby that started the moment I got my hands on my brother’s digital SLR camera hand-me-down about four or five years ago. Quite quickly after playing and messing about with my new toy, I started to wonder about the possibility of studying this art form in more depth.

The University’s BA (Hons) Photography course ticked all my boxes and served as the perfect over-arching degree that would allow me to learn about wide-ranging theories and techniques and help me to develop my own photographic style.

I’ve genuinely been surprised and even baffled by the amount of opportunities that you gain from being at university, even in the first year. I’ve met so many potential business contacts through networking and I am currently shadowing the University’s photographer to find out more about how photography can be professionally applied to a business’s marketing activity.

It’s a bit of a cliché but I’ve always been one of those people who has never really known what they want to be when they grow up, however, university is helping me to see the possibilities. Right now I feel I could dive into underwater ocean photography, start my own business, or, having seen my lecturers’ passion for their field, even get into teaching.

My favourite memory so far was definitely our study trip to the Martin Parr foundation in Bristol. Martin Parr is a professional photographer famous for exploring British life and culture in his playful collection of documentary photographs and wider work, and is a contemporary artist that I respect and admire greatly.

I went to the Foundation a couple weeks ago to attend a talk by Eamonn Doyle – another photographer I idolise. I sat down ready to listen to his talk and Martin Parr sits down right next to me. I almost had a heart attack. I’m ten yards away from Eamonn Doyle and am sat next to Martin Parr who, after the talk, invited us into his library to continue the discussion. It was all quite surreal.

I know it’s early but I’m already dreaming big about where university can take me. At some point in the future, I’d love to become a member of the exclusive Magnum Photos collective, of which Martin Parr has been a member since 1988. I’m determined to ‘make it big’ and publish my own books that showcase my work and photographic philosophy – how poetic would it be if my books end up on Martin Parr’s shelf one day?


Final thoughts

It’s easy to say it now but the only thing I would change about my approach to Clearing is to worry about it less and remain reassured that all the help available will get you through things as smoothly as possible. Embrace the fact that university will open up avenues for the rest of your life.

Could Clearing be for you?

If you’re worried about your university place, you don’t have to wait until A level results day to apply for Clearing.

Whether you’re yet to apply or have already made an application to the University of Plymouth, we aim to make your next steps as easy as possible.


Achieve a September 2019 place through Clearing