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Making the jump from student to professional in a highly competitive and fast-paced industry is no small feat. But while those first steps into the world of photography can be daunting, they are just as rewarding. My break came through a combination of opportunity, persistence, untiring hard work and good timing.

I was in-between university and seeking employment when I first came across 3Objectives Photography. Due to my funds running out, I had been forced to leave university with my degree unfinished, and I was now in the process of trying to sign on with the Job Centre. In the same week, by chance I discovered that a new South London studio was offering an eight week internship through the Job Centre. I visited the studio and met the team at 3Objectives, and that was how my career in photography began.

For eight weeks I was funded by the Job Centre with my Jobseekers' Allowance to work as an intern with the studio. While I couldn't actually produce any work for 3Objectives or their clients, I was able to observe the running of a busy photographic studio first hand. 

I had the chance to learn about how a studio operates, how to light and photograph a variety of subject matter from basic products to more complicated still-life set-ups, and about the post-production processes involved. My responsibilities included setting up the lights for the shoots, taking light readings from each flash unit and then setting the colour balance with a grey card.

I was by the photographer's side to offer assistance, such as holding in a reflector to bounce in light where necessary, and helping to style the products. I learnt about the maintenance requirements for Phase One and Hasselblad camera equipment, and mastered the basics of software such as Capture One and Photoshop. Other duties throughout my day included booking in new jobs, ensuring all couriers were booked on time, and checking the equipment was functioning correctly for upcoming shoots.

From early on I was aware that preceding the internship there would be an opportunity to work for the studio on a freelance basis, so I ensured that for those eight weeks my life revolved around the photography studio, and I took in as much as I could.

I was a successful intern because I was ambitious, enthusiastic and untiring about the job, and I think it showed. I was in the studio on time in the morning with the teas and coffees, and I always ensured the studio was ready for the next day before we closed for the evening. There was also the opportunity to put my newly developed skills to the test and shoot images for my portfolio.

When my eight weeks ended, I stayed in touch with photography director Paul Downes. It wasn't long before I was offered my first freelancing job and I was able to free myself from the Job Centre and begin my career as a freelance photographer.

A wise man once said to always finish what you have started. In February 2012, I gave my old university a call. They enrolled me back onto the course to undertake the one outstanding module that completed my qualification, and Paul kindly allowed me to use the studio to shoot my project. I graduated from the university with a BA Honours Degree in Photography and Digital Imaging the following year.

Today I freelance for 3Objectives, as well as another photographic studio based close to my hometown Southend-on-Sea after a generous recommendation from Paul. Previously my thinking was of a glass 'Half Empty', now my thoughts are a positive 'Half Full' one instead.

Lee Murrells - 
Freelance Photographer