Employability Month features a whole month of events to help kick-start your career. As part of this initiative we have launched a new blog feature called ‘Alumni Thursdays. In collaboration with the Alumni team, each Thursday during Employability Month we will introduce you to one of our successful alumni, who not so long ago was starting out their career just like you.

In the past weeks we have heard from Joanna Orland and how her MA in Audio Production has led to her success in the gaming industry; whilst Jeremy Cobbold head of International Logistics Retail at Marks and Spencers shared his top tips for a career in logistics operations. This week we feature Ella Dickinson, who completed her MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism in 2013. Ella was awarded the Oxfam Exposure Photography Award for Women shortly after her graduation for her series on first-time voters and young political activists in the 2013 Kenyan General Election, My Voice is My Vote. She is currently working for an NGO called Compassion UK and hopes to become a humanitarian photographer.


Ella, the prize for the Oxfam Exposure Photography Award was a trip to Chad. Could you tell us a bit about your trip?

‘The prize was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Chad in Africa to document the communities affected by famine. I found that in Chad, food crisis and food insecurity is endemic, and women – who are not recognised wage earners in the culture – often bear the responsibility for feeding the family.’ 

How has your experience in Chad influence you as a photographer?

The experience has deepened my fascination with how powerful images can be used to educate and prompt social change. Increasingly I appreciate honest photography; images that show me something unexpected and unposed; images which challenge or move me. So by extension, often photography about injustice, inequality or suffering which has in mind to achieve social change through it, is important to me.

‘It was also an opportunity for me to build on my experience of story-telling through photographs that I began to develop during my MA. The lectures helped me develop the skills and resources needed on the trip, for example, how to use a single image or a series of images to tell an important narrative.’

You can see more of Ella’s photographs from Chad here.

How has the course developed your career?

“I love to capture what I see and the way that I see that particular situation or story or person. The course equipped me to understand more about the contemporary photojournalism industry and what it demands from an individual and an individual’s work. I was able to put to use everything I had learnt during the course and produce images that I was really proud of and that were useful to the work of Oxfam.”

What is your top tip for any budding photojournalists?

“Don’t expect an easy road! At first you may have to combine photography work with other jobs. Any experience is good experience. Get others to review and edit your work – you often have a bias perception of what you shoot. And shoot whenever and wherever you can, whether it’s with an SLR, Polaroid or a mobile phone!”

Thank you Ella for sharing her passion for honest photography and her experience in Chad. We are running Harrow Alumni Panel on Thursday 25th February, book now and listen to alumni from your campus share their insights into how they made it in the profession and some of the challenges that they faced in doing so. It may give you an idea of how to make the most of your time here, and end up in the best job possible. Or if you are feeling unsure about your career path, why not book a Quick Query session with one of the Career Consultants by calling 02079115184, and start thinking about your future now.

Keep your eyes out for our final ‘Alumni Thursdays’ guest, it may just be someone you recognise from the TV!


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