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From DMU to the Big Apple: a First Class degree helped a DMU Alumnus get his foot through the door


Photography and Video graduate Harry Cottam said the First Class degree he gained at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) helped him get his foot through the door with higher profile companies. 


Harry travelled the USA and worked as an intern for prominent advertising and fashion photographer Paul Aresu in New York City (NYC).

Based in New York, Paul Aresu is an accomplished lifestyle, adventure and portrait photographer known for his impressive range.

Harry had a passion for photography and video from a young age. He said: “I remember taking control of the camera, though only a compact camera, and loved being the family photographer. Once I finished my GCSE’s I began taking it more seriously and fell in love with it.”

When asked why he chose to study at DMU he said: “When I came on an open day I was very impressed with what this great city provides; great shops and amazing country walks.  

“The facilities such as the photographic dark rooms and the Apple iMac rooms were fantastic.

“What completely sold me on this particular university was the lecturers. After meeting all the lecturers I was instantly impressed and was sold after meeting Laura McGregor in particular, who was the course leader. Laura was friendly, incredibly knowledgeable and constantly motivated to help students in any way she could. 

“My fondest memory at DMU was while I was away in Paris with my course through #DMUglobal.

“My tutor and course mates surprised me by taking the group on an unexpected detour to Café des 2 Moulins. This was a famous location from my favourite childhood movie Amelie which I mentioned on the journey there. This is something I often reminisce about with my DMU experience.” 

Harry believes that DMU’s international outlook fitted perfectly with his own desire to explore the world.

He said: “De Montfort’s constant campaigning to go global linked very much with my drive to work and not let location restrict me having now worked in Germany, New York, London and all over the UK has helped me in my career.”

He graduated from DMU in January 2018 but was unable to attend his graduation in July as he was already working in the United States. He travelled and worked in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh in July before staying in NYC.

“Due to my knowledge and First Class degree, I was able to get a meeting with Paul Aresu who offered me a job as an intern”, he explained.

“I hadn’t really thought about New York in particular; however I've always been interested in living and working in another country and was really excited to see what that would feel like. So when I got the chance to go to the States after studying, I took it! 

“I assisted him on his social media, contacting art directors from brands such as Puma, Vans and Nike on his behalf, and assisted professional shoots for brands such as Gatorade and Nike on set in NYC.”


 Snapshot of Harry's experience in New York

Paul offered Harry to continue working in his studio as his assistant as it was described to him when he was there. However, he instead chose to work full time as a Post Production Retoucher for NEXT in Hemel Hempstead, near London.

He relocated to the south of England and started working for NEXT at the beginning of March this year and has been thoroughly enjoying his time there. 

His message to current DMU students is: “Take the internship. Work for free again. Work during the summers. Contact everyone you admire from your field. Explore new fields. Work for free again. Travel to London to grab that coffee with someone in the industry. Work for free some more. Use social media to promote your art. Use your weekends to work on your field. 

“Work hard and have fun!”  


Posted on Tuesday 16th October 2018

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