James Parker

Edinburgh Napier graduate, James Parker, talks about his experiences studying BA (Hons) Photography and his career to date

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m currently a photographer based in London working for a variety of clients, from large business’ and creative agencies to niche brands and consumer magazines.

Why did you choose to study at Edinburgh Napier University?

The course is highly regarded in Britain for photography and offered a unique learning environment, providing you with established and experienced lecturers, combined with the beauty and landscape of Edinburgh as a city and hub of creativity. This meant that I was only ever interested in studying at Napier.

What are the key skills you learned during your time at Edinburgh Napier University?

The key skills I picked up through my course were technical photography work, pitching, pitching whilst supporting my creative ideas and thoughts, time and project management, social skills and relationship building, and how to do proper research.

How would you sum up your student experience at Edinburgh Napier University?

Thoroughly enjoyable. You get out what you put in; if you’re prepared to work hard, results will follow. It’s a social experience like no other, to move out of your comfort zone, but be placed into an equally comfortable and exciting atmosphere, with culturally diverse people all around you, in one of the best cities/countries in the world.  

How has your career has developed since graduating?

After graduation, I taught photography at Summer Schools in Cambridge Universities. I then moved to London to work in a photographic and film kit room. I then assisted and digital operated for photographers, travelling around the world on assignments and productions. I am now a freelance photographer, shooting, pitching and working in the advertising and editorial sectors.

Do you feel these skills and your degree has made a difference in your career? If so, how?

Without the degree at Napier, I wouldn’t have had the platform to make the steps into the career I'm now working in. Your skill sets develop dramatically once you graduate, the upward curve is drastic, enjoyable, but challenging. The degree is just the start.

What are your highlights of studying at Edinburgh Napier University?

I have many highlights of studying at Edinburgh Napier, these include: getting to engage with a network of experienced lecturers and guest speakers; working with a diverse group of students; taking part on an exchange programme to Ryerson University; drastically improving and developing my theoretical skills; going to the Free Range Photography Festival; being selected as the Exhibitor for the Streetlevel Exhibition; and being selected for Format Festival’s Portfolio Reviews with Ideastap.

Any career tips/advice for recent graduates?

As with any creative degree, don’t rely on this entirely to shape and decided your future, use it as an opportunity to experiment, develop and learn, to find your photographic voice and what you feel photography truly means to you.

Outside of the degree it’s essential that you supplement it with actual work experience, build relationships with your own contacts and clients, create work and projects external to the course, before the cliff edge of graduation.

Make friends with those on the journalism, marketing, advertising, film and graphics courses at Napier. These will be your contacts in the future and a good place for collaborations.


Check out James' Instagram @Jamesparkerphoto and his website https://www.jamesparker.co/information