From student to multi award-winning, world-travelling wildlife photographer, Jennifere Thompson shares her study journey and tips for aspiring photographers. Scroll down for the interview.

16 June 2017


Jennifere Thompson - Diploma of Photo Imaging Graduate

What did you study?

Diploma of Photo Imaging

When did you graduate?

19th December 2014

What were you doing before you started your course?

Until 2011 I was a Finance Administration Officer in Victoria Police. In 2013 I studied Certificate IV, Digital Imaging at Chisholm TAFE in Dandenong.

Why did you choose to study photography– did you switch careers or up-skill to improve your career prospects? 

I wanted to continue my study in photography, and complete a Diploma of Photo Imaging. By studying at CATC/Billy Blue I could learn commercial photography and would be better prepared towards a career change.

Why did you choose to study with us?

I was living in New South Wales when I chose to study at CATC/Billy Blue in Melbourne. The course offered fulltime; part-time or online study options, which would suit me geographically.

What was your favourite part of studying at CATC/Billy Blue?

My favourite part was the challenge. I loved questioning everything I thought I knew about design and every day being opened to a new world of possibilities. The connections and networks I made were also invaluable.

How has studying with us helped you reach your career goals?

I am now confident in my own work and currently exhibiting images in three exhibitions throughout Victoria. I can also use my commercial photography skills to enhance other career opportunities.

How has your career benefited from any industry connections made while studying with us?

I have made new connections in the photographic community as well as in Graphic Design. I am able to assist in organising photographic exhibitions, and will do this in 2015.

What advice would you give aspiring photography students?

Explore all genres in the course. Always strive towards producing your best work. Don’t settle for mediocre, as you will only be letting yourself down. Take the advice from the tutors; and pick their brains, as they’ve all been in your shoes.

Where are you currently working?

I am working as a freelance photographer specialising in wild animal and human portraiture. I exhibit fine art and nature photography. I have had work exhibited in three exhibitions.

Describe the type of work you do and your typical work day:

My workday is never typical, as I’m a wildlife and wild animal portrait photographer. Quite often I travel alone around the world photographing animals in the wild as well as in zoos. In 2015, I photographed animals on the Serengeti in East Africa. I walked up the muddy tracks of Virunga Volcano Mountains in Rwanda to see the Mountain Gorilla. In 2016, I travelled twice to Borneo to see Orang-utan, Proboscis and Silver Leaf Monkey. Then travelled Europe to visit Cologne, Berlin, Paris and London Zoos. In 2017, I rugged up to photograph animals at the Bronx Zoo, New York. There was a blizzard but the animals played in the ice. In June 2017, I travelled to Malaysia and Borneo photographing animals who survive on the brink of palm oil plantations.

The majority of the time I travel solo, it can be lonely, unpredictable, frightening, and at times dangerous. I’ve been involved in a car crash at night, in the city of Kigali, Rwanda where I was the only Western woman among hundreds of faces. I've been trodden on by a Mountain Gorilla, chased by peeved off Orang-utan, snarled at by irate monkeys. I’ve been on a boat at sea off the coast of Borneo so that I could release endangered sea turtle. My work is not typical, however, it the most rewarding thing that I can follow my passion.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Knowing that my work can make a difference in the way humans view the animals. Receiving accolades, and being awarded 2015 AIPP Victorian Emerging, and 2015 Australian Emerging photographer of the year has been a highlight of my career. The one I'll never forget. Also having my profile featured in Capture Magazine, and being the runner-up 2017 Australian Emerging Portrait Photographer in Capture Magazine. Top on my personal list is having the animal portraits featured alongside human portraits and knowing what I'm trying to achieve


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Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?

I want my images to be recognised by my individual style. And be known for my specialisation.

Any further comments?

Age was no barrier when returning to school. When I had doubt, or lacked self-confidence with my photography I’d read my own advice. It remains pinned to my refrigerator.

“If you bluff, then you’d better be good at it.
If you’re good at it, then you’d better believe it.”

Fancy following in Jennifere’s footsteps? Check out our Diploma of Photo Imaging course.