Extreme adventurer Michal Dzikowski enrolled on the University of Hertfordshire accredited BA (Hons) Photography course with IDI as he felt his knowledge of photography theory was in need of refining. Although he has found balancing full-time work with degree level study to be a challenge, he has already witnessed the benefits of the new skills he has learned, put to use on a recent trip to the Himalayas as an official expedition photographer. Michal is quickly finding that studying online with IDI is taking him closer to realising his dream of becoming a professional travel photographer.
With a degree in IT/Digital Media, Michal found a comfortable career working as a medical device engineer. However, since the age of 7, Michal has had a desire to become a professional photographer and recently felt that he had to do something about it. As a technically proficient photographer already, he decided to undertake an accredited qualification to learn more about photography theory, and to discover how to take a more professional approach to his work:
“I realised I needed to add structure to my lifelong photography adventure so I started looking for a course that would help me to gain the necessary foundations in art theory and history. I looked for a course that would teach me how to produce photographs with meaning.”
With a lot of his time taken up with full-time work and adventure travel, Michal found that he would have to look for a course that offered flexible study and was delivered 100% online. After applying to a number of different institutions, he discovered that IDI were the only option that took his application seriously:
“IDI was the first institution that reviewed my photos. They actually took a look at my online gallery and made valid comments about some of my photos. I felt like I was being treated as an individual, not another fee-paying entity.”
At the end of his first level of study, Michal has not found combining full-time work and studying towards a BA (Hons) degree in photography to be easy, but he has found it to be worth the effort he puts in:
“Sometimes I feel drained and frustrated that I have no more time or energy to give to photography. However, I learned a long time ago that if something is easy it’s usually not worth a lot. The more challenging something is the more joy and sense of achievement it brings. The first year of studying was lightning fast and I am already a year closer and a year wiser.”
Michal is already enjoying practising the skills he has learned with IDI on his exotic travels:
“For the last ten years I have been travelling to remote and wild places. I have been wreck diving above the northern circle, climbing in the Himalayas, trekking in the Sahara or trying to survive in the Amazon jungle.
“Wherever I go my camera is always with me, and it is my dream to be able to combine photography with extreme adventure travelling as well as ethnography. I want to be able to show our so called ‘civilised world’ how the third world looks and prove that it is not at all uncivilised.”
Photographs from Michal’s expedition to the Himalayas were a breakthrough in his practice, with a number of publishers approaching him about his work, including the outdoor equipment company RAB. His hard work and dedication, along with the skills he has learned so far studying with IDI have helped him to come a step closer to his dream, and he is very proud to have one of his photographs shortlisted for this year’s RPS competition.
Michal is treating studying with IDI the same way as he treats the difficulties he faces on his extreme expeditions, “as an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop”. For those considering studying with IDI, Michal has some simple and poignant advice:
“Go for it – do not hesitate. There is only one life and we must cherish every second of it.”