If you’re interested in knowing how you can start studying in Bachelor Fine Arts Photography, welcome to read about my journey. In this article, I wanted to tell you more about why I started photography and eventually ended up studying my BA in Holland.
I started shooting on analog in 2007 and at that time I was shooting entirely for my own pleasure, back then the images were really not shared anywhere and only served as a creative outlet for myself.
One thing I do still feel analog does for a budding photographer; it lets you compose your images more carefully and forces you to learn about lighting immediately. It’s also intriguing in a whole different level than just the digital that everyone has access to these days.
Now that I look back at my own photography, I rarely opened up any of my work to my audience or even knew how to bring out the storytelling through my imagery.
Although, you know eventually why things happen, I knew being in a creative environment could help me to get a sense of where I wanted to go. Understanding that your surroundings plays a huge role in how you can grow in any kind of field.
Starting my first studies in Finland
For years I tried to apply to Lahti Institute of Design LAB with the knowledge I had and just the sheer passion. When I was applying for the studies my feeling was that it would be great if I got selected, but wasn’t expecting anything from the entrance exams.
This shows that I didn’t feel confident enough with my skills. I already saw a few exams, and once even quitting my job to have the exam dates off, I knew not to have too many expectations.
I was finally accepted to study my Bachelor of Arts at Lahti Design Institute in 2014 and a whole different world opened up from there.
The start felt awkward, of course, I had already been working and building my own schedule for so long that changing it without financial gain felt challenging.
I was somehow used to a certain type of lifestyle and not having the extra headache from the creative process was all I knew – and that was also the fixed mindset I had before learning to love the unknown.
Nevertheless, I was ready to accept new challenges because my own life had been pretty predictable for years and my job in the harbor wasn’t fulfilling enough.
Moving away to study in the Netherlands
After studying Lahti for a few years, I had the opportunity to do my exchange abroad. Lahti had not appealed to me as I’d hoped for and I had moved back to Helsinki. My social life and part-time work took time and focus away from the studies and I was slowly falling back to the life I had previously.
Applying for my exchange along with a few others, to the Royal Academy of the Arts in The Hague KABK. After both excitement and doubt, I was told that I was the only student selected for the exchange. You can guess I was pretty ecstatic.
The process to be accepted was pretty simple; I had to write a motivation letter to be considered. I was also expected to present a portfolio with my latest work and to have all of the necessary courses completed prior to my exchange – this was actually the hardest part since many of my courses were not completed.
This is what KABK states on their website:
The department works with two deadlines, which apply to both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA candidates:
Priority deadline: 1 March
Final deadline: 1 May
You need to
- Create your application via Studielink
- Submit your portfolio (along with the assignments)
After this you might be called for an interview where you further present your skills to be selected for the course.
You can find more of the actual application process on KABK website.
I have to say that, in hindsight, I would recommend everyone who gets the slightest chance to do an exchange abroad to go for it. The variety of studies and the extent of networking, which we don’t have here in Finland, is just something Lahti University couldn’t compete with.
While studying in the Netherlands, I completely rebuilt my identity as a photographer – I learned to tell stories with my photos, properly edit my series, build properly targeted portfolios, and work in the photography studio without hesitating my skills.
However, I believe this was due to the Academy’s location and the wide network that allowed quality education and intense schedules, which forced me to upgrade my practice and to be able to compete with the rest of the class.
For me, I needed the pressure to evolve. Studying Bachelor of Arts abroad was truly a game changer for me.
Life after graduation
I finally graduated in 2019 feeling relieved and amazed that I actually made it out of there. I had not expected this when initially applying to Lahti University.
At the same time, I felt a great longing for home. For the last couple of years, everything in my life felt temporary, mostly missing the important days my family and friends were having in their lives.
It felt more like a rash that I had to scratch – I wanted to move back home and now I had my chance to do so.
Now it’s been couple of years and many things have happened ever since; I started my MA studies in Finland and provide services and education on lighting and studio both online and in person.
You can follow for more daily updates on @sonyamantere.
If you want to know more about the starting point in my photography, you can read it here.
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