Danielle Nichols, Silver Arts Award

Danielle Nichols tells us all about her Arts Award experience, from exploring portraiture photography - using grandad as a model in photo shoots - to running a photography workshop. 

Hi Danielle, why don't you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Danielle Nichols and I am a 17-year-old photography and media, A-Level student. I've been studying the art form of photography since 2014, where I became a self-taught sports photographer and have been carrying out this particular genre of photography ever since with local football teams. 

Before the Arts Award, I wasn’t confident enough to distribute my photography work unless it was based around the sports genre, even though I was comfortable with exploring different genres of photography, I didn’t have the confidence to show my work to others apart from my family and friends. However, I feel like the Arts Award was a great course that built my confidence with sharing my work with a vast range of viewers and that the Arts Award was a great stepping stone in my photography journey and future career plans. 

 How did you get involved with Arts Award?

I first encountered the Arts Award when the teacher who teaches the course came into a sixth form class with a presentation about the course back in September 2017. The objective that attracted me to study this extra-curriculum subject was that I was able to study whatever art form I wanted to, and I felt like I had more freedom with the Arts Award as I was able to do so. 

I started studying the Silver Arts Award course in October 2017 and I decided to study portraiture photography. This was due to me being interested in the particular photography genre, but, as I was never able to study this particular genre in my actual A-Level class, I felt like the Arts Award was a great opportunity for me to study deeper and further into it.

What events did you go to as part of your Arts Award? 

As I study photography, I went to a local photography exhibition in March 2018 where work from people in the local county was distributed for the audience to see. Check out my review of the exhibition

What artists inspired you?

In my portraiture photography studies, I studied photographers that I felt related to my future aspirations the most and the photographers that I class as my idols. These photographers include Steve McCurry, Lisa Kristine and Yousuf Karsh. I chose these particular photographers because I want to travel the world, and by using Steve McCurry and Lisa Kristine as my researched photographers, it gave me more of an inside on how they portray images of traveling around the world. 

Another photography idol of mine is my grandad, and my grandad is a huge reason why photography is such a big part of my life. My grandad enjoyed studying photography himself, he previously purchased so much new photography equipment when my mum was younger, which he has given to me. I want to follow in my grandad’s footsteps and I feel like the Arts Award was a great opportunity to do so and sometimes I even use my grandad as my model in photoshoots!

Tell us about how you led your own project

As part of the leadership side of Unit Two in the Silver Arts Award, me and another participant who studied photography created and distributed a photography workshop for the younger school years at our school. The workshop allowed the students to learn something new, experience a new event or lesson but to also enjoy their time. The students were able to be both behind the camera and in front of the camera and by the end of the workshop, each student declared they had learnt something new, which was a great comment to hear as it showed that me and the other participant were able to share our skills with an audience that were willing to learn! 

What kind of portfolio did you create?

As I was completing a photography project, I completed an A4 portfolio, so I could stick my images in and write comments and reviews about my photos and work. However, when I presented my work to the younger students who came along for the photography workshop, I printed my photos out and placed them in an A4 folder as I wanted the audience to focus on just my photos. I presented my unit two: leadership portfolio on paper in a folder as this was mainly written work. 

What did you find most valuable about your Arts Award experience? 

The thing that I found most valuable was that I was able to express myself and my creativity through a certain genre of photography that I wanted to study. By choosing the way I wanted to express myself through the art form, it gave me a sense of freedom and it allowed me to distribute my work in a particular way that I wanted the viewers and audience to understand.

What did you find inspiring?

What I found most inspiring was the amount of support I gained from such a small group of people. Even though there were only four participants (including me) completing the Silver Arts Award, we all felt such great support from each other, even if we were all studying completing different subjects! Also, the support I gained from people outside of the Arts Award (for example, my family and friends) was extreme too, it made me feel more and more confident every time I completed some work for the extra-curriculum course! 

What did you find the most challenging?

The most challenging part of the course was finding the time to complete all the photoshoots, due to studying A-Levels. It’s hard to find some extra spare time in the day, so this was a huge challenge for me personally. Another challenge was the weather. An example of this becoming a hurdle was doing my paint photoshoot - the day I had planned to do this certain photoshoot (which needed to be completed outside) it had snowed all night, so I had to wait an extra week or two before I could actually complete the photo shoot. However, I had beaten this barrier and created some amazing photos that I'm proud to present to others! 

What are you going to do next and has Arts Award helped you?

Hopefully, from studying the Silver Arts Award, I will be able to study the Gold Arts Award, as I enjoyed the previous one so much. Hopefully, I will get this opportunity when I start year thirteen in September! 

Who gave you the most help and inspiration?

I feel like everyone I've shown my work to has been very supportive and helpful throughout my whole journey. My teacher, friends, family and the other students who completed the Silver Arts Award gave me advice and compliments throughout my whole Arts Award journey. Also, the models I used in my photo shoots were very helpful as they took the time out of their day to support me in every step of my photography journey and aspirations. 

Get involved with Arts Award 

Arts Award (What is Arts Award?)  helps you to grow your talents, explore the arts, be a creative leader and get a qualification. If you’re already participating, go you! Head over to our Bronze and Gold hubs for more inspiration and support. 

Join our Arts Award alumni network 

We’re on the lookout for Arts Award alumni everywhere! We’re here to help support you in your next career steps and offer some useful and interesting benefits! Find out more and sign up

Write for us 

Help others like you get through their Arts Award qualification by writing about your tips and experiences. Become a Voice Contributor today


Nici West

Nici West Voice Team

Nici is the an editor for Voice. She loves all things books, theatre, music, art, visiting other countries, anything creative, and sometimes attempts to make YouTube videos. Alongside Voice she writes and edits through her own pursuits.You can occasionally find her running marathons dressed as a black dog.

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  • Luke Taylor

    On 23 July 2018, 11:25 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    Her photography skills are absolutely devine! It's really clever how she's used colour in her photos to bring her subjects to life.

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