INTERVIEW – Tony Cobley

Posted on October 20, 2012


For my current project, “201: ‘PCA’ Client Brief” (See previous post click here) I decided to conduct an interview with local professional photographer Tony Cobley as his photographs were the results of what I wanted to capture for my own results within the task of photographing students within the workplace.

As a professional what do you look for in advertisement within educational institutions?

– I look for the communication of the institute’s ethos, the expression of their values

“We have been given a brief to advertise the Plymouth College of Art, this entails student life, the environment, the education, facilities, resources, so on and so forth.”

If you were given a project similar to mine how would you approach it?      

– You need to know the institute, talk to the marketer and get a good clear idea of what they are looking for, see what they want to use it for and match your photography to their ideals. I would go and organise scenarios, this includes so that I may best understand how to best light the photograph, make my potential models aware of what I am doing for a natural shot and generally make the outcome more creative and colourful. It’s better to make the students aware of you too and it’s most certainly important to be organised.


I can see you have also done commercial photography for education; can you tell me your personal experience with this?

– I started my experience with commercial photography with the Plymouth College of Art in fact, they gave me a job and I enjoyed it thoroughly, working alongside marketing and graphics, other creative minds and gaining new inspiration and ideas all the time with my peers. Being part of a team to me is all part of the experience and enjoyment within a career of photography it’s much more satisfying having similar minds to work with as opposed to on your own.

“To clarify, using digital photography and portable lighting I would like to follow and capture students from different departments of ‘Contemporary Crafts’ aka from glass, ceramics, metal-works etc. I would like to photograph students in their natural and comfortable environment whilst working using PCA’s resources and facilities. Whilst attending lectures, and working on their projects, perhaps if completed in time, the results from their projects!”

Your photography for education is similar to what I would like to capture, do you have any tips on how to achieve this?

– You’ll find that normally you won’t have enough time to light your subject/ model, however much you’d love too. So you need to evaluate your environment and compose your subject around it, working with natural/ provided lighting and the background. I recommend using a speed light so you can have a control of at least some lighting.

– I also recommend experimenting with depth of field techniques so that you can create a more effective and contemporary outcome with your results. This effect can be achieved by using a long lens, wide aperture and focusing closely to your subject. If you can, using a large format camera effectively captures this technique too.

In conducting this interview I was able to gain the advice from a professional that has been in the same situation I am in now and this has generally given me much more confidence in how to approach my work and also given me food for thought on different techniques and experiments to conduct throughout the project.

To see Tony’s website, Click Here: