Focusing on a Passion
Photography enthusiast blends art with occupation in George Brown courses
Sofie Sharom tells stories through pictures: although she also takes photos as part of her day job as a social media specialist for Ottawa Tourism, she is an accomplished freelance photographer. Sofie’s urban and wildlife images have won awards from Canadian Geographic magazine, and her work has been showcased in a wide range of galleries and publications. Recently, one of her portraits was chosen for George Brown College’s 50×50 photo exhibition (part of the 2018 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival), which celebrated how education has shaped the lives of newcomers to Canada. What the selection team didn’t know, however, is that Sofie’s exceptional photography skills were refined through George Brown’s Digital Photography Program.
“I don’t think I would have been able to exhibit my work anywhere had I not taken these classes,” explains Sofie, who graduated from the continuing education certificate program in 2015. “If you want to bridge the gap from enjoying photography to making it into a career or a business, these courses are perfect. They take your interest and give you the tools you need to go further.”
Although she’d always had an interest in photography, Sofie found her university business studies didn’t leave much time for photography courses. Then, in her first marketing job (a tourism role for the CN Tower), she found herself asked to shoot photos regularly. Because many of the photos were food shots, she enrolled in our Food and Product Photography course – and started down the road toward the full certificate.
“I was a photographer but needed more technical expertise, so I decided to refine my skill,” she recalls. “George Brown offered a good selection of courses with a flexible schedule. Working full-time meant that daytime classes during the week or a full-time degree weren’t possible. And George Brown had basic intro courses but also specialty photography courses like wedding, food and fashion photography, which was more interesting to me. I decided to do the whole certificate after that because that one course was really good.”
The courses in the certificate gave Sofie an ideal balance between theoretical and practical learning in a high-tech, modern setting. They also gave her access to the wide range of knowledge her teachers brought to the classroom.
“One of the big things about the program was critiques,” Sofie remembers. “So a lot of courses involved going out and shooting every week then coming to class with your photos and getting a critique. I don’t think the courses would have been as valuable without those critiques. The teachers I had all brought a different aspect of photography to the table – some technical, some more artistic, and some practical – all of which made me a better, more well-rounded student.”
The certificate, Sofie notes, also gave her a solid foundation in essential photography skills such as re-touching and editing. But what Sofie found the most beneficial was a class that changed the way she approached her business and helped contribute to her current success.
“A lot of people these days don’t print photos because they don’t know how and everything is digital,” she says. “But there is one course that has to do with the actual printing of the photos, and I thought that was a really helpful course because I exhibit a lot at galleries and having that knowledge – of actually printing art properly and what it takes to go from a digital file to a printing file – has been extremely important in my career. I don’t think I would do a lot of that stuff had I not taken that course.”
Sofie, who aspires to become a full-time travel photographer, recommends our photography certificate to anyone who can’t commit to a full-time program but wants to take their skills to the next level.
“The photography certificate I completed at George Brown definitely added value to my photography and gave me the confidence to pursue it professionally,” she says. “The environment was friendly and comfortable yet challenging, and I don’t think I’d be where I am right now with photography if I hadn’t begun the classes.”