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Student stories: Luke Shephard - The Open College of the Arts
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Student stories: Luke Shephard


“From a small beginning as a piece of work for assessment to a much larger project I am continuing to work on. This is my zine; Twenty-five Food Banks which I hope can start to help people during the UK’s cost of living crisis. 65% of proceeds going towards a food bank donation, and the remaining 35% going back into further printing.” Luke Shephard, 2023. https://www.thefoodbankphotoproject.co.uk/ https://www.instagram.com/the_foodbank_photo_project/

What is The Food Bank Photo Project?

Times are tough and what started out as an assignment for my photography degree has grown into a project that I have continued to pursue.

Taking pictures of the locations of food banks around the UK. These are not pretty pictures, but they are important pictures of places where those in need can get what they need to feed their families for a few more days. When I started this at the start of 2022 there were 2300 locations listed. In July 2022 that number had grown to over 2800 and I fear things are only going to get worse as the cost of living crisis in the UK worsens.

What course/level/unit are you currently studying with OCA?

Photography Degree, Level 1, Identity and Place

Tell us a bit about you

Mid 40s, born in Germany but grew up in East Sussex. Part-time freelance graphic designer (not a great one), who worked in retail and an office for half my life.

What’s your previous educational experiences and what drew you to OCA?

Before OCA I had been out of education for over 20 years, having passed my main GCSEs and having done badly at A-level I always considered myself very non-academic. I still do to be fair. I had always enjoyed artistic pursuits but they never gripped me when I was younger after many years in retail and working in management something was clearly missing. The thing that perhaps I always wanted to do, but had not discovered until now. I was always disappointed with myself for not going to university as all my friends did. Something just clicked (excuse the pun) when I started EYV! OCA seemed like the best place to pursue my degree as I could not attend an on-campus university.

Can you describe your OCA journey?

I actually started my journey on the Graphic Design degree but my progress was very slow having been out of education for such a long time. Core Concepts was a great unit and I think I learnt a lot. My second tutor really tried to drill into me to be clear and concise, and whilst I still struggle with this, it’s now something I am thinking about when writing all of the time. Coming back to the feeling I have around not being academic I was initially quite worried at some of the language used in some of the books recommended in EYV but when I expressed this to my tutor he said he sometimes feels the same way. It was similar when I brought this up again with my second tutor. Reassurance like this goes a long way and whilst that feeling has not gone away, it’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels like that!

You’ve just had some recognition for your work, well done! What happened?

I’ve simply been reaching out. Perhaps not as much as I should and there is definitely more to do, but just being brave and asking has opened some doors. I’m over the moon to be featured in Student Stories and getting the story out about what I’m doing to more people makes it feel more worthwhile. https://www.thefoodbankphotoproject.co.uk

Instagram the_foodbank_photo_project

How are you finding the tutor and/or peer support at OCA?

OCA Tutor, Andrew Conroy, thought the food bank project was a really good one and when I talked to him about it when I got my EYV result back and it was the highlighted piece in the assessment gallery he said 

“it’s a great idea, I wish I had thought about it.” Andrew Conroy 

It was these two things that really got me thinking I need to pursue this.

What does studying for a Degree in Photography mean to you?

In a way it’s like I’m turning back the clock and correcting something I missed out on in my early life. I regret not picking up a camera in the way I did when I started EYV. I often think where or what I would be doing had I found photography 20 years ago.

What’s next for you?

I think I have found my “thing” or the thing I want to do until the day when I am not here. With retirement age ever increasing my hope is that I have found something that can sustain me, help and please others, and I can enjoy for the rest of my life.

What advice would you give to anyone starting on the degree?

Don’t be scared by some of the language used in some of those early books. I still find them difficult to read, and some tutors have also admitted as much. Keep practising, keep experimenting with the things that interest you. And so far across the units I have worked on context, context, context! Always think about the context of what you are putting into a picture!

Find out more about the #communityfridge Network: https://www.hubbub.org.uk/the-community-fridge

Find out more about Luke’s project: https://www.thefoodbankphotoproject.co.uk/


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Posted by author: Dan Robinson
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One thought on “Student stories: Luke Shephard

  • That’s a great project Luke and well worth £5 of anybody’s money!
    I really enjoyed reading about your personal story and wish you all the very best for your OCA journey!



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