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Meet the Tutor: Tom Arber – Digital Photography Portfolio Building Course

There are still some places remaining for our Digital Photography Portfolio Building Course with Tom Arber. In advance of the course, which starts this Saturday 18 June, Tom’s tells us a little more about the course and a recent project that he refined into a final portfolio of images. To book a place on the course online, click here.

‪I am really looking forward to the upcoming portfolio course, working to build the skills of photographers and support them in the creation of a high quality and personal portfolio. Over the 5 weeks we will develop skills in, not only taking better images, but also considering how a set or sequence or images works, how selecting the best images is key and how digital post-production can help to bring fresh life into images.

‪I hope that participants will build the confidence to have a clearer idea as to what they want to say. I like to think that shooting is hunting for the best way to express your vision and then the final edit builds and refines this further. An image, or body of images can lose their strength if you have to explain them, so it’s essential that all the images project a clear message – but with variety of tone, contrast and colour. Your portfolio is the main document you show people in order to tell them who you are as a photographer. It needs to reflects both your personal interests, ability to tell a story as well as your skills with a camera – therefore it’s not a case that anything goes!


‪The sessions will be informal and conversational, we’ll discuss the existing interests and ideas of each photographer taking part and consider ways that they can take a fresh approach to their photography, perhaps re-invigorating an older project or making a start on unrealised idea. Along the way we’ll also look at presentation techniques, digital editing and tips on both online and printed portfolios.



‪I thought it might be useful to share a recent project from my portfolio and to describe some my concerns in making and selecting the final images. Below is a set of images from a commission I completed for Opera North in 2014, the challenge with this body of work was to reveal the behind the scenes atmosphere of a production of Verdi’s La Traviata at the Leeds Grand Theatre. In addition I wanted to show the everyday workings of both the theatre and the theatre production by playing with scale, relationships and the hierarchy of the theatre environment. With regard to cameras, I needed to be discreet, I couldn’t direct anything and had to be a silent observer. So I had used fast lenses (wide max aperture) and a camera that worked well at ISO12600 to ensure I could always grab what I needed. I had to select down from hundreds of images a refined final selection which was exhibited at White Cloth Gallery in Leeds – this meant I had to let go of some images in order to get the right story. The full set of images from the project can be viewed here.

‪Tom Arber



About the Tutor

Tom Arber is a full-time professional photographer with over 10 years experience. Working principally within commercial photography, and specialising in documenting events, Tom is the ideal person to lead a practical and thought-provoking exploration of contemporary photography. To view more of Tom’s past projects and commercial work visit his website,


Other upcoming photography courses at The Hepworth Wakefield:

Digital Video Editing Workshop
Saturday 3 September. 10.30am-4pm.
£50 (Members £37.50)

Use Apple Mac computer software to create experimental video collages inspired by the work of exhibiting artist Stephen Sutcliffe. This workshop is suitable for beginners and is a great way to build your knowledge of video editing and filmmaking. All equipment provided.

More information. 

Extraordinary Ordinary: Advanced Digital Photography and Photo Book Course
Saturday 10 September – 15 October (6 sessions). 10.30am-4pm.
£220 (Members £165) – includes cost of making a one-off photo book.

Join photographers Charlie Meecham and Kate Mellor to investigate how photography can pull the extraordinary from the ordinary. Exploring Stanley Spencer: Of Angels and Dirt as a departure point, you will use your SLR camera to generate a high quality body of work that will become a one-off photo book. Price includes the printing of a concertina photo-book – this is a great chance to have some in-depth conversations about your own photography and turn it into a beautiful book.

More information.


Image credit: All images courtesy of Tom Arber and Opera North.

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