Ben is 21 and studied photojournalism at the University of South Wales (USW), after graduating he co-started a business called 74 Productions and is now a member of The Sustainable Studio.
“At 14 I was bought my first camera for Christmas and taught myself how to use it. I became official photographer with Notts County FC, travelled with the team and loved it.
Doing the USW photojournalism course felt like a big step forward and I realised photography could become a career. Also, it felt great to prove teachers wrong who said my attitude was wrong for university.
Being taught to tell stories through images rather than just taking photos was awesome, it gave me loads of opportunity to play with the camera and meet cool people.
Video with purpose
In my final year I made a film about homelessness, A little change, please, and wanted to show the realities of rough sleeping. I spent about eight weeks chatting to homeless people, getting to know them and finding out more about their problems and getting a realistic view of their lives.
There was a big response to the video, it got a lot of publicity and was featured on ITV Cymru and BBC Wales News. I think people resonated with it because there was a genuine approach to storytelling.
There were changes because of the video, people were really supported after filming, some have jobs now and one set up a digital marketing company and that was great.
“Why don’t we start a business together?”
I went to the pub with my friend Sam who was on the same course and we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do after graduation.
Sam had helped me edit the video and we both said, “why don’t we start a business together?”, it seemed a logical approach.
We didn’t want to work for anyone else, wanted to travel, film, take photos and it seemed a good way of doing that.
The biggest barrier to starting a business was just myself, I was so nervous, only 20 at the time, worried about money and if it would work but went for it.
Being a member of TSS
We wanted an office space, found The Sustainable Studio, came to an open day and looked around and thought it was sick. I don’t like offices normally because they’re boring but there was a cool atmosphere with nice people and the flexibility was really good if everything went wrong.
Being a member of TSS has helped us with confidence, being around other creative people is cool because we can share ideas, get feedback and take inspiration from each other which is wicked. It’s friendly, fun and I love coming to work.
Advice to graduates thinking of starting a business
Just go for it! Do your research but bite the bullet and try it, if it goes wrong it’s a learning curve but if you put the effort in and you’re committed it probably won’t.
If you can be part of a collective then do it, going on your own is hard but going in with a space like TSS means you’re never alone, although it’s your own business you’re working with 40 creatives and it’s lovely to have community and family around you to help you grow as a business”.