Graduate Spotlight: Photographer Alex Leat
02 May 2023
Meet Press & Editorial Photography graduate Alex Leat – Student Photographer of the Year finalist and video content producer for the likes of the WWF, The Prince’s Trust and The Walt Disney Company.
Alex Leat didn’t take the standard route into undergraduate study; joining Falmouth as a mature student after a varied career. Since graduating, Alex is thriving as a media creator – including working for clients like The Prince’s Trust, WWF, Whirlpool, KPMG and DLA Piper – and even a credit on the BBC’s Simon Reeve’s Return to Cornwall.
We caught up with Alex to chat about his experience of Press & Editorial Photography BA(Hons), what he’s working on now and what’s around the corner.
You had a slightly unusual route into university. What made you take the leap to start a degree?
I’ve always had a passion for photography and creating things. I studied photography when I was much younger, but when I finished college the idea of going to university just didn’t appeal, so I went straight into work.
I worked on the ground for Apple for a few years, and then for a school as a Creative Arts and Media Support Teacher – I've always had a knack for technology, especially cameras, and it was really rewarding to be able to help teachers and kids in the classroom.
But the real (unexpected!) career change came when my partner – who works in medicine – took a job in New Zealand. I went with her with no job lined up, but because of my prior experience with photography I managed to get a job as a Medical Photographer. It was just such an interesting experience and firmed up that I wanted to create content for a career.
When my partner and I came back to the UK I didn’t have a job secured, but by that point I was sure I wanted to go to university and try to ‘properly’ get into video or photography production.
What made you choose Press & Editorial Photography at Falmouth?
I’m from the Southeast, and originally planned to go to university in Brighton to study film – it's always tempting to stay closer to home! However, I’d heard of the School of Film & Television and decided to go to a Falmouth Open Day too.
When I was at the Open Day, I just loved it. I was still thinking about studying film, but after chatting to a Student Ambassador they mentioned Press & Editorial Photography. Everything I found out about the course was so in line with what I wanted to do; the alumni were incredible – working on projects with National Geographic and the BBC – and the course leader was so passionate and knowledgeable. What really surprised me was that there was more of an emphasis on media and video than I would’ve expected on a photography degree, and that’s what cinched it for me.
You’ve done some incredible work since graduating – how have you packed so much in?
When I was studying, I focused on local, community stories, which gives you a really unique angle on people’s lives – and that’s the bit I love.
Before I’d even graduated, I got a job with an agency called Beagle Media based in Newquay. The vast majority of their work is video production for businesses and big broadcasts, like Simon Reeve’s Return to Cornwall, which was a really important series for the county.
During my time at Beagle, I worked on some amazing projects; we made videos for huge, international organisations like The Prince’s Trust and WWF, for awards, shows and more. I also worked on ‘sizzles’: the short, snappy videos that are used to pitch new television shows to networks.
As always, some of the most interesting work was for brands you may never heard of!
So – what does the future look like for you? What’s next?
I had a great time at Beagle and learnt a huge amount – so much so that I recently left my job there and I’m setting myself up as a freelance videographer, editor and photojournalist. I was chatting to another graduate who had gone freelance earlier, and they had loads of work lined up – they were booked for months.
There’s such a demand locally and nationally for video in particular, it’s a great time to get into it.
I don’t want to leave Cornwall; there’s always a push for creativity, there’s always something happening, and the change in working arrangements since Covid means more and more people are working remotely in the county, which works for me!
I see Cornwall as a great place to build a creative future for myself.