University Choices

Guest blogger and NOISE volunteer Jack Waterfall tells us about making the choice to apply for University after a gap year.

It's May 2013, I've just finished College. Life had thrown me a curve ball the year before that I won’t go into and I was still reeling. I didn't want to go to University, so I found myself stuck. I mean, where do I go? What do I do with the rest of my life? It’s a difficult question to pose to an 18 year old still clinging desperately to adolescence.

So as I sat idly by, I got a message from a friend asking if I wanted to do a job as a photographer. I of course jumped on the chance. This was for NOISE. It was only later that I realised I already knew who they were. Earlier on in the year I had entered The Art of Protest with my College work and the job was also part of this event: NOISEstock, a free gig in the People’s History Museum.

I wasn't experienced as a photographer and I hadn't done anything like that before, so I was justifiably quite nervous. NOISE didn't know this, and I don’t think I ever told them. I barely had any idea how to use my camera when it wasn't on full auto. That’s the thing about modern digital cameras, any idiot can take a good photo, but I was a long way from knowing how to take a great photo. So throwing caution to the wind, I really went for it. Shot it all manually and in RAW mode. I ended up taking about 1000 photos, close to my total amount at that point and it went... great, actually. It is of my humble opinion that I took some great photos that day and I really learnt how to use my camera. It’s remarkable what a bit of real experience can do.

I was contacted again in October to cover their exhibitions for Bury Light Night. Cue nerves again. It was at night. I’d never taken pictures at night. It’s a careful balance between trying to capture action while also having to keep the shutter speed slow enough to let enough light into the sensor. I messed up a little at times, but after enough fiddling I really started to get better photos. Ended up using the lights that everyone was carrying to have some fun experimenting with long exposures and create some abstract photos.

By this point, I was then completely out of work so I decided to volunteer as a graphic designer; my actual (hopeful) trade. They have me creating all kinds of marketing materials and things for their brand, which I guess brings us to now; sitting at my desk writing this blog post while Lucy writes my reference to University. I find myself no longer stuck, bound by my own fears and indecisiveness, and now I know what I want to do with my life.

Photo of Jack at work at NOISEstock courtesy of David McFarlane