Enrolling on the OCA photography degree course at the start of 2018 feels like the beginning of a new phase in my life. Exactly a year ago I found myself adrift and directionless when my 25-year relationship ended. The publishing and editorial work that had been my main occupation since the early 1980s had mostly petered out, and I realised that my webshop selling midcentury Danish design was not going to be enough to sustain me creatively and financially for the rest of my life.

As 2017 progressed I consciously looked out for a new direction, and with this in mind I took Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way course. While I was doing the 12-week programme I had no real sense of the form my creative expression should take, but my thoughts defaulted to writing since it’s a form I’ve worked with throughout my life, albeit more as an editor than an originator. But I was unable to summon up the inspiration to embark upon even one creative writing project or to feel in any way excited about the idea of a future as a writer.

In September I came across a course entitled Learn to Use Your DSLR in Manual Mode and decided that this was exactly what I needed to give me more control over my website product photos, which for the previous 15 years I’d been taking in auto mode. As soon as I started the course I felt inspired and uplifted, and quickly realised that photography was the new creative direction I’d been looking for. I took further short courses in street, portrait and abstract photography. Still I wanted more, and eventually settled on the OCA degree course as being the perfect fit for my aspirations and situation. So here I am, excited and a little nervous, ready to have my illusions shattered but ready to learn and build a new understanding of how to approach photography.

Julia Salisbury, 10 January 2018