Graduates 2023: Tatiana Haslam: MA Photography

“From working with large format cameras and shooting in the studio to processing film in the darkroom and expanding my knowledge of contemporary photographers, I have absorbed a wealth of knowledge.”

Could you please share a bit about your work and your influences?

For my final MA project, titled ‘Family Portraits,’ I delve into the intricate dynamics between family, self-identity, and the enduring echoes of history and heritage. Inspired by the absence of several family members and using archive imagery as a reference, I create a series of black and white self-portraits. In these portraits, I mirror the poses and expressions of my relatives, symbolising their absence throughout my life. Employing analogue photography and darkroom development has been a crucial part of my creative process, blending the traditions of classic studio portraiture with the introspective and autobiographical nature of contemporary art photography. Through this project, I invite viewers to reflect upon their own connections to lineage, the interplay of absence and presence, and the profound influence of family in shaping our sense of self.

Can you share a bit about your journey to the course and what led you to choose it?

My passion for photography began during my time at a renowned art college in Barcelona when I was fifteen. There, I explored various art mediums, which eventually inspired me to pursue a Media Production BA at the University of Sussex. While I enjoyed certain aspects of my undergraduate course and graduated with a first-class honours, I felt that it didn’t truly stretch my creative boundaries. Unaware of the University of Brighton’s exceptional reputation in the arts during my undergraduate application process, I later discovered its faculty’s high regard and impressive alumni network. Recognising it as the ideal space for my artistic growth, I decided to enrol in the MA program.


What were the highlights of the course for you?

The most significant highlight of the course has been the transformative learning experience. From working with large format cameras and shooting in the studio to processing film in the darkroom and expanding my knowledge of contemporary photographers, I have absorbed a wealth of knowledge. The university’s outstanding facilities, combined with the support of the technical staff and lecturers, have been invaluable throughout my journey. Equally important has been the support from my peers and lecturers, which has played a pivotal role in my development as a photographer. Without this ongoing encouragement, I would not have successfully completed the course.


Was the location of your course in Brighton important?

The location of Brighton held great significance in my decision to choose this course. Having lived in the city for the past three years, I already recognised it as a creative hub and an excellent environment for my growth as a photographer. Apart from the numerous exhibitions and events, as well as the convenient proximity to London, Brighton offers abundant opportunities for young creatives. Many of these opportunities were accessible through the university’s career hub. In addition to my part-time studies, I have undertaken various professional roles, including Gallery Assistant, Production Runner, Video Editor, Commercial Photographer, and Graphic Designer. I firmly believe that studying in such an ideal location for the arts has had a profound impact on my personal and professional development outside of my studies.


What are your plans after graduation? What’s next for you?

Like most individuals, I’m still uncertain about my plans after graduation. For the past two years, I have been freelancing in the art and media fields and intend to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. I am particularly interested in gaining experience as a Photography Assistant and will actively participate in open calls and exhibitions to showcase the work I have created during my MA. It would be a dream to merge my professional graphic design skills with my expertise in photography to design photo books, but I am aware that this niche industry takes time to establish oneself in. Nevertheless, I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.


What advice would you give to someone considering postgraduate study?

If you’re considering postgraduate study, my advice is to ensure you truly want it. Masters programs are intense and different from undergraduate studies. I started full-time but quickly found it overwhelming. Part-time study is a good option if you’re passionate about the subject, allowing you to balance academic and professional development. It can be mentally challenging, but the journey is worthwhile. The knowledge and networks gained will contribute to personal and professional growth, opening new opportunities in your field.

Follow Tatiana on Instagram @tatianaxhaslam

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