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In conversation with Callum Wells, Beyond the Frame 2019 winner

Callum Wells was selected as the winner of NUA’s Beyond the Frame photography competition in 2019, from over 250 entries. Now in his first year of BA (Hons) Photography, we catch up with him about the experience and how it’s impacted him going forward.

How did you get started in photography?

As far as I remember I have always been interested in photography. I would take my small compact camera into the garden and photograph simple images like flowers, sunsets and my dogs. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I realised I would like a career in the photography industry.

I moved into portraiture after I completed work experience with Mike Harrington at the end of Year 10. Mike is a professional photographer based in Norwich. He showed me what is was like to be a photographer, which inspired me to push my ideas and create more and more photoshoots over that summer. These shoots weren’t for my work, they were for me.

I began promoting my photography at the start of Year 11 which led me to freelancing jobs. By the age of 17, I had photographed a prom, corporate ball, two product jobs, and five weddings. After this, I was 100% focused on achieving my dream of becoming a photographer.

Why did you choose to study BA Photography at NUA?

I had no back up plan because I was so set on studying at NUA. It wasn’t just the incredible pass statics and excellent post-graduation support; a friend’s brother, who studies BA (Hons) Graphic Design, spoke to me about how NUA has a wide variety of contacts from all creative industries.

The university invite professional practitioners to lectures in which we can directly interact with them. This sometimes leads to work experience and a job after graduation, which is the reason why I was so set on studying at NUA.

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What have you been working on in Year 1 so far?

In Year 1 so far we have completed our first unit which consists of four projects. I am currently working my way through my second unit which involves three projects.

This first year has taught me a lot in terms of the style of work I am expected to produce, while also learning how to use the incredible photography facilities available at the university.

“I feel a lot more confident when presenting my work and look forward to hearing critical feedback about my images.”

You won the 2019 Beyond the Frame competition from over 250 entries- how did this experience impact you?

Winning the 2019 Beyond the Frame competition has given me a huge confidence boost in regard to my photography. While attending the exhibition of the shortlisted entries, I was astonished by the number of exceptional photos positioned around the room. My friend and I went just to have a look at the other entries; I couldn’t believe it when I was selected as one of the Judge’s Choice winners. I felt incredibly proud of myself. The even bigger shock was when I was announced the overall winner.

After winning the competition, and reflecting on the comments made about my image, my opinion about my own photography has positively changed. I feel a lot more confident when presenting my work to others and look forward to hearing critical feedback about my images.

What would you say to other young photographers thinking about entering the competition?

I would say to all young photographers to submit their photography to the exhibition. I would have never submitted my image if it wasn’t for my friend’s mum encouraging me to, and it ended with me winning the competition and a new Canon camera! It is a great way to not only boost your confidence, but also to meet other young photographers and gather inspiration.

Any advice for someone starting BA Photography in September 2020?

My biggest piece of advice would be to start with an open mind. The first year is all about getting used to the workload, while also exploring your creative ideas.

I would suggest booking the studio after your first introduction as it is a great way to practice setting up the equipment and understanding the basics of the studio.

See more of Callum’s work on Instagram.

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