Photographer Patrick Dowse is the recipient of the 2020 Stationers’ Bursary award, a grant administered by Stationers’ foundation and funded by The Printing Charity for young people on MA courses leading to careers in digital media and print. We spoke to him about his work and how the award will help support his career. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the industry?

I am a documentary photographer from the North-East of England currently based in London.  I work on a range of long term projects ranging from documenting working-class heritage in my home region of County Durham to more local work photographing life in London and the surrounding area.

I moved to London in 2014 to study at the University of the Arts, London, where I studied Documentary Photography. The main reason I moved here was to move to a city I didn’t have any familiarity with and throw myself out of my comfort zone from a small town of 30,000 people to one of the biggest metropolises in the world.

After graduating from university, I soon realised that making a career in the creative industry demanded a lot of perseverance and hard work. I took jobs in art galleries as an invigilator, working freelance in photography studios and some freelance work with photographers (after pestering them to allow me to shadow them).

Work combined with networking at photography gallery private views and portfolio review led to opportunities that allowed me to progress in my career.

What is the bursary going to allow you to do?

The Stationers Bursary will allow me to focus on my studies. I originally planned to study and work full-time, which would have conflicted with my degree and ultimately affected my grades.

The backing of the Stationers Company means that I can work within the industry to aid me in the start of my career, but also focus my time on my Documentary Photography and Photojournalism MA at University of Westminster, which I feel incredibly honoured and lucky to be doing.

Where do you turn for support in your career?

Before the pandemic hit, I was starting to feel like I was making real progress in my career. The pandemic has completely changed the paradigm of work in the 21st century. An essential part of the creative industry, networking with industry contacts in person, is currently on hold.

I turned to The Printing Charity, and received mentoring from Neil Lovell. His support this past year has been essential in allowing me to see things more rationally and thoughtfully. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge and has advised me about career choices and work questions.

Do you have anyone that you look up to in the industry?

Chris Steele-Perkins, Magnum Photographer, has been a mentor to me for the past five years. I started assisting Chris during my second year of university after a peer told me a photographer was looking for an assistant on a major project. I fired my CV to him, and the rest is history.

Chris helps me with photographic work, career advice and is an excellent example of what a photographer can really be and what they can achieve with hard work and perseverance.

I also look up to photographers who are a little older than me or a similar age, such as Lewis Khan, Cian Oba-Smith, and my good friend, Lewis Inman. Their photographic work and determination is a driving force in helping me become a better photographer in the 21st century.

What are your aspirations for the future of your career?

My ideal job situation would be to make a living as a documentary photographer and a commercial photographer. I have also always wanted to get into teaching. Becoming a teacher or working in photographic education and supporting the next generation of creatives would be a wonderful thing to do.

Find out about the Stationers Bursary and how else we support people in our industry.