Belfast Exposed Photography Academy

Belfast Exposed Photography Academy

Ever fancied a creative career in photography? Free training, plus a recognised qualification? Build your skills and confidence? Meet new people? Open doors to new opportunities? Then the Belfast Photography Academy is for you or your group!

Running annually between October and May the Belfast Exposed Photography Academy is a unique programme, which harnesses the culture and potential of photography in Northern Ireland through the creation of emerging photographers and complete beginners, with an interest in learning.

Through the development of the Belfast Exposed Engagement Programme we offer up to 40 marginalised young people the opportunity to embark on a photographic artistic career through access to university/further education, become a professional or commercial photographer and gain a recognised qualification for future employment. The programme can also be designed to meet group needs from neurodiversity and physical abilities, as well as training centre timescales. 

Who is it for?

The Belfast Exposed Academy is aimed at improving creative education, enhancing capacity-building skills and providing a pathway to future career and employment prospects of young people, some of who live in the most deprived areas across Northern Ireland.

What is it?

Belfast Exposed will engage young people by offering skills training in a non-formal educational programme and offer bespoke photographic, artistic and professional development. This will equip participants with an OCN Level 1 and Level 2 in Digital Photography, equivalent to 3 GCSE’S at Grade B, as well as an opportunity for tailored workshops that provide career development skills or assist in access to higher education (HND, degree programmes).

Belfast Exposed will provide community groups the option to work directly in the heart of the community as well as in-house at our photography centre in Belfast City Centre. Belfast Exposed’s highly skilled staff has a vast amount of experience of using photography in community development.

Overall Level 1 and Level 2 will take approximately 25 weeks to complete, with additional self-directed learning, site visits and on-location workshops.

What will you learn?

Level 1 – Teaching Basic Skills

Participants will undertake 10 x 2hr facilitated workshops on a weekly basis,  2 x full-day workshops and 15hrs of self-directed assignment

  • Technical
    • How to use a Camera
    • Software Techniques
    • Studio Lighting
    • Health and Safety
    • Archive
  • Creative
    • Composition
    • Commercial and Artistic Photographs
    • History of Photography
    • Project Planning
    • Darkroom Use

After the first 10 weeks, we will register all those who wish to go ahead and continue with the OCN qualification. There is no pressure to do this, as we want this to be an enjoyable as well as informative experience. If anyone doesn’t want to go ahead with registration, they can still attend the workshops.

Level 2 – Enhancement of Skills

During the second part of the course from January to May, we will complete the OCN course work through in-class tuition and self-directed work.

Participants will undertake 10 x 2hr facilitated workshops on a weekly basis,  2 x full-day workshops and 15hrs of self-directed assignment

  • Technical
    • Studio Portraiture
    • Printing Photographs
    • Health and Safety
  • Creative
    • Landscape Photography
    • Street Photography
    • Animation
    • Zine Creation

Level 3 – Career Path Development

We will arrange Level 3 engagement for participants who wish to advance further in the field of photography and arrange 8 x 2hr-facilitated workshops on a weekly basis, 1 x full-day workshop or site visit and 15hrs of self-directed assignment.

These sessions may be with other participants who want to further their career and we will arrange these last sessions with the participants.

  • Facilitation Project
    • Working with experts in community arts. Learning how to become a facilitator, which will enable them to deliver workshops in photography.
  • Advanced Portfolio Project
    • Design and develop a photographic project aiming to achieve excellence in the chosen field and develop a professional portfolio of work
  • Career Seminars Project
    • Work with 8 professional photographers in Studio, Journalism, Fashion, Film, Commercial, Advertising, Wedding and Animation

Booking Information

If you are interested in booking or would like more information about the programme, please contact

Ben Malcolmson

Case Study

Emerging artist, Ben Malcolmson from the Shankill area of Belfast (a significant area of social deprivation), has worked with Belfast Exposed and participated in various programmes since the age of 10, including workshops, summer schemes, Young Futures programme, volunteering in the gallery and facilitating recent programmes for younger people. Nominated by Belfast Exposed, Ben was the NI representative for Making Marks in 2019, with the Arab British Centre, funded by the British Council Kuwait. Making Marks explored the impact of working internationally on emerging artists. Ben’s residency to Kuwait was one stage in the Making Marks project. Over several months, Ben worked with Belfast Exposed on a body of work titled Murmur, which was exhibited at Belfast Exposed in 2020 as his first solo show.

Ben is a recent graduate from Ulster University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, graduating with a First Class Honours in Bachelor’s of Photography with Video. His previous studies include undertaking his Erasmus studies (2019/2020) at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague in Bachelor’s of Photography.

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