Chef goes back to college to study photography and now has his own business

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Chef goes back to college to study photography and now has his own business

Curtis Young Photography

At the age of 43, Curtis Young decided to stop working as a chef after working his way up from washing pots in kitchens. Now a HE Photography student, Curtis decided to follow his passion and pursue a career in photography. “I wanted to learn how to do things so I did my research online.” Curtis had two choices in where he could study photography full time, after visiting our facilities and speaking to the tutors at our University Centre, he felt that Leeds City College was the perfect learning environment for him. “I thought to myself, if I’m going to do this at the age I’m in, then I’ll need all the help I can get so I thought doing a full time course would be the best thing for me.”

Curtis remembers his college interview saying “the interviewing process at Leeds City College was completely different from the one I’d already been to elsewhere. I was met at reception and made to feel at ease. We spoke about the course, they showed me photographs and we spoke about what I wanted to do. I was then asked to write a personal statement to demonstrate my writing skills. I left the interview feeling motived and was really pleased when I got the letter in the post telling me I was in.”

When he joined us in September 2015, “Initially, I thought I wanted to just do the two year Foundation degree without the third year top up but I’ve since changed my mind because I enjoy being back in education, it’s allowing me to be more open, I’m learning more and progressing much quicker than I would on my own.”

Our photography course allows students to explore both the digital and traditional processes in photography with hands on experience. Students also enjoy trips to great locations such as Liverpool’s art galleries. “I put myself up for everything and saw every new challenge as an opportunity to learn. I was already taking photographs in my first year which is what I wanted to do.” Our tutors are experts within their field with industry connections which gives our students invaluable knowledge and prepares them for the professional world of photography, “I wanted to experience working in a studio environment with a professional photographer so my tutor made it happen and arranged for me to work with one of his industry contacts, Murat Ozkasim.” Since then, Curtis has worked on a number of commercial photography projects including portfolios for models that are now employed by companies such as Elite in Manchester.

You may have seen Curtis’ work before as some of his photography has been widely used across Leeds City College our posters, prospectuses, adverts and more. Expect to see more of his work in one of our future prospectuses and 2018’s summer campaign.

“I’ve really enjoyed the course so far. I thought I’d have to complete the course first but I was quoting customers for photography work in just 6 months. It’s really important to just go for it, listen and take on board what your tutors have to say, use your time wisely and it will work out for you. It’s working for me, I’m out there and doing what I love.”

“I always loved photography but often wondered how I could make money from it. Third year has been great because there’s a business element to it. I’ve learnt a lot about managing a company, having the confidence to speak to people and clients. It’s enabling me to do something I never thought I’d be able to do which is being my own boss.”

Curtis now has a business partner and together they’re working towards growing the business and photographing even bigger and better things. He met his business partner Shelly Phelan on the photography course, she is currently a second year student. “We saw a gap in the market and went for it. I have a target at the back of my mind and I was once told I wouldn’t be able to do it but I’m going to make it happen.”

“I strongly believe that, the only thing that’s going to stop you is yourself so why not? If you have the drive and want to achieve something then go for it.”



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