NOW IN its sixth year, the Featc Level 5 course in Photographic Studies, run by award-winning local photographer Ken Finegan, who earlier this year successfully completed a Masters in Fine Art Photography from the University of Ulster.
Ken, who has many years experience working as a professional photographer, began teaching photography to Transition Year students at Ó Fiaich College and realised the potential of offering the course on a full-time basis.
The year-long course comprises of five photography modules, as well as modules in starting a business, communication, image processing, and the history of art and design, making it the ideal launching pad for anyone interested in pursuing a career in photography or in gaining new skills to enhance existing qualifications.
'Students are grounded in the basics of photography, including all the different genres such as portraiture, studio work, black and white and colour photography, working in both digital and film, processing and printing film, as well as looking at the history of photography,' says Ken.
The course attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and ages, from school leavers to mature students, and this year's in-take of 24 students are drawn from throughout Louth and neighbouring counties, Meath, Monaghan and North Dublin.
'We get a mix of students, from teenagers who have just completed their Leaving Certificate to mature students who are pursuing a love of photography or are looking for new skills to use in an existing job,' says Ken. 'We've had students from every generation, from 17 year olds to people in their sixties, with all different levels of education.'.
'The aim is to make sure that when they leave, every one of them will be employable,' he continues. 'People can continue to Further Education and eight former students of the course are graduating this year with Honours Degrees from photography courses in the University of Ulster and the University of Glamorgan, Wales, while others are working as professional photographers.'
The course involves a period of work experience and, having completed the course, students now have the option of continuing their studies and doing a FETAC Level 6 course on a part-time basis as part of the Institute's popular programme of night classes.
Students have access to a dedicated photography classroom complete with studios, darkroom facilities, and resource library. Digital cameras are available for students who don't have their own as well as wi-fi enabled laptops with the latest editing software. They are able to print from both film and digital formats and are encouraged to explore the work of leading photographers, both past and present, enabling them to build up a portfolio of work during the year.