"I liked that it was a small community and photography focused, that was a huge plus. Most of all knowing it was not ATAR score based really took the pressure off me. It suited my way of learning and achieving."
Monica Wilmott is full of passion and enthusiam for photography. We checked in to see how she is doing and reflect on the past few years as a student at PSC.
Had you always wanted to study photography?
I’ve always had a keen interest in photography. When I was 5 years old I got my very first camera and loved experimenting. At 16 I had an awesome opportunity with my Scouts Club to document a 3-week long trip to Adelaide. It was a fun paparazzi project, we had to meet an assignment brief that was given to us by the club and the results were eventually published in the Scouts Newsletter. The big buzz was seeing my images featured in the newsletter with my name on it! I really enjoyed the entire experience and most of all having my work out there for all to see. From then on, I knew what I wanted to study photography.
So was photography all you were considering in year 12?
Well my school wasn't as supportive as I hoped. I knew I wanted to do photography regardless of the lack of encouragement from my careers teacher who was guiding me into more academic areas of study and that just wasn't me.
There were times I just looked at what was happening on the PSC website and I just wanted to go there. I applied through VTAC and the relief was knowing it wasn't ATAR score based and that took the pressure off me.
How did you find out about PSC?
I found out about PSC from a careers expo I attended with my school. When I got home I looked up the website. Even in school hours I would keep checking out the website to look up what was happening at the college. I knew I wanted to study there!
What was it about PSC that drew you here?
I liked that it was a small community and photography focused, that was a huge plus. Most of all knowing it was not ATAR score based really took the pressure off me. It suited my way of learning and achieving. It’s great not having exams. All my friends who are at uni’s now are all highly stressed, all year round and especially at exam time. When you love what you do it doesn't feel like a chore.
What did your parents think about you studying photography? Were they supportive?
My dad was a bit concerned that there may not be any work and I may waste my 3 years. But now he has come around to the idea that there is a career. Mum was super encouraging and told dad to 'chill, it’s going to be fine'.
Tell us, how was your interview experience at PSC?
I was terrified at first…I came an hour early to make sure I was on time. I had my big A3 folio ready to show. The vibe was so relaxed, and the tutor made me feel so comfortable. Once I calmed my nerves and started talking, he made me feel so encouraged.
I walked away feeling relieved . I gave the interview my best. This was the only place I applied to so it was a big deal and I was still feeling a little anxious.
What creative work did you present in the interview?
I did media in year 11 & 12, so presented some of that work. Photography on its own was not offered at school even though years ago they had a darkroom! With the help of my media teacher I was able to focus on photography. Most of what I learnt was on my own, I loved it so much so I was naturally motivated.
What was it like when you found out you got accepted to PSC?
The day I got my email and received an “A” letter to say I was accepted was amazing. My mum was more excited than I was …we were off to a Christmas party that day and she told everyone. I was the first one in my family to study a tertiary degree and I was feeling super happy.
What type of photographer do you aspire to be?
Initially I was thinking of commercial photography but after my study trip with PSC in second year to Malaysia for the Obscura festival I changed my mind. I decided that I wanted to be a documentary photographer.
Wow, so the trip was a real turning point for you?
Yes it was. But second year as a whole was great because you get to explore different styles of photography and see what you like the most.
Can you tell us a bit more about your Obscura festival experience?
It was an intense time because you immerse yourself in photography 24/7 with a mentor to guide and critique your work. My mentor was Leonard Pongo, he was great at giving feedback and we clicked straight away.
My original plan before I went to Malaysia was to do a documentary series about a turtle sanctuary in Penang National Park. However Leonard gave me the challenge "Can you make it look post-apocalyptic, like turtles took over the world" which was something I really ran with in my series.
I never imagined ending up in Malaysia. When I found out about the college doing the trip I knew then and there that I wanted to go. It was my first time travelling overseas on my own (without the family). It was a great experience staying together with people I'd never met before. I enjoyed the challenge and independency.
It was so well organised and it felt safe. It was valuable not being hand held. You toughen up as the feedback was so honest, not filtered and it gave me a thick skin. After this I can take the critique to learn and grow from.
What would you say has been your biggest achievement?
Finishing the Malaysia tour. The networking was incredible with such a range of cultures and ages. I was the youngest there. It was such a special time!
What are your plans after graduating?
I’d love to get an internship at a publication and shooting stories. Create prints to sell. Or going to an organisation that may need my services. I have volunteered for the Amnesty photography project that they are undertaking in collaboration with PSC. There is a bunch of us that will be photographing for the organisation and I know how valuable this will be for my folio and my experience. It's also good to give back.
Are you confident about your future career prospects as a creative professional?
I am confident I will find opportunities or even create them. Knowing how well other alumni have done gives me confidence. I am already working, photographing events, portraits and headshots. The main thing is to keep my skills up and keep shooting to get my work out there.
If you could give your pre-PSC self-one piece of advice, what would that be?
Don’t doubt your abilities, you are here for a reason. I was worried that I would be the worst one in the room when I first came because I was comparing myself with others. I learnt to stop doing that as the support here is so fantastic and not just from the teachers but also from my fellow students.
Make sure to check out more of Monica's work on Instagram @evokeimages
Follow your passion.....
Applications are now open for our 2019 intake. If you would like to learn more about where a career in photography could take you, then feel free to contact our Future Student Coordinator, Daniel Fischer on 03 9682 3191 or firstname.lastname@example.org