It wasn’t very long ago that Debbie Hunt was sitting on a long-held dream to be a photographer; cut to 2022, she’s fulfilled an ambition, ticked something off her bucket list, and is now her own boss in a job she loves.
Wairarapa-based Debbie said she had always been interested in photography but didn’t have the means to pursue it until a kind gesture from some family friends allowed it to happen. “They generously shared an inheritance with my siblings and I, making it possible for me to purchase my first ever DSLR camera.”
The acquisition of a camera reignited Debbie’s aspirations and started her on the path towards achieving her goal. Through online searching and comparing different courses, she discovered SIT2LRN offered The NZ Diploma in Photography (Level 5), available under the Zero Fees Scheme. “After reading reviews that all sounded positive, I decided to take a leap of faith and enrol and really pursue a dream I’d had for years.”
Prior to starting her study Debbie said “I didn’t have any expectations of the course per se, but I was nervous about returning to studying after not being a student for years! I was also apprehensive about studying online, given that photography is so hands-on.”
“I needn’t have worried though! There was a lot of contact with other students via forums and chats and being able to give each other feedback was great too. The lecturers were helpful and responded pretty quickly to any questions and they knew their stuff,” she said.
Debbie completed the NZ Diploma in Photography and graduated in 2020. She says she learnt a lot about digital photography as well as digital post production, professional practice, including contracts, releases, copyright laws - “all the little things that you don’t even really think about when you’re first starting out!”
She continued, “I loved this course. So much of what I learnt was applicable to what I was doing - I was able to start using all the skills I was learning and because I was still studying I was able to get feedback along the way, which was really encouraging. The programme itself is really informative - it gives you a really good base for all things photography.”
As is often the case with something new, the programme extended and challenged Debbie, especially in the area of managing her time as she studied from home. “It is harder because you’ve got to be accountable to yourself!” However, she did find it helpful having set dates to check in with other classmates ahead of posting assignments.
“Definitely a big benefit for me was being able to get to know other students in the same course - having chat forums where we could get feedback, ask questions and bounce ideas off each other. It’s been really cool since, to be able to follow some of my fellow students’ social media accounts to see their own work going from strength to strength.”
The advantages of online study continued for Debbie; learning from home meant she was able to meet all of her family and ‘being a mum’ commitments.
“Having studied with SIT2LRN and experiencing life since and through this current covid-era, I think there are many benefits to online learning! I didn’t feel that I missed anything by studying online, (aside from not being able to make it to graduation) and through all the lockdowns there were no disruptions.”
Debbie has set up her own business, Debbie Hunt Photography, where she enjoys the variety of work she’s currently involved in: sporting/events, families/portrait, commercial, and birth photography. Debbie’s work can be seen on https://www.debbiehuntphotography.com
She described the diploma qualification as having “given me a huge step-up in my career as a photographer”.
“It’s opened my mind to all the ins and outs of photography that you often don’t even consider - from legal standpoints to the finer details of tax and GST. I learnt a lot about digital post-production and it really challenged me to step outside of my ‘black and white’ thinking to embrace all forms of photography.”
And the icing on the cake for Debbie is the joy of sharing her passion with her son Jackson, who is showing an interest in photography. It’s been an enriching experience passing on her knowledge. “He's taken some incredible landscape photos, and last year we went on a mini photography tour, where we explored the central plateau together with our cameras,” she said.
Based on her own personal experience, Debbie can highly recommend studying the Photography diploma through SIT2LRN, “and if you decide to go for it - go all in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get involved in the online forums with your classmates, you only get out of it what you put into it.”
“It really challenged me to see photography as an art form and it challenged me to push myself out of my comfort zone, to not be afraid to experiment and the importance of finding your own style.”
“It helped me to take a dream I’d had and make it a reality, it gave me the confidence to put myself out there, to give it a go and do my absolute best,” she concluded.
(Click the images below to view Debbie's beautiful photographs)