For Irena Stanojlovic a photography course at Wollongong West TAFE NSW was about more than learning new skills it was about finding her artistic voice. The Warilla woman said she learned how to "express herself as an artist" which has been a big part of her self development. To celebrate the end of the TAFE course the Wollongong students presented their work at the Karoona Gallery in Wollongong on Monday, November 27. Ms Stanojlovic created a powerful photo called 'The Void' about mental health theories and her personal experience of depression. "This image represents a battle with the inner demons engulfing your brain in flames with negativity," Ms Stanojlovic said. "The strength inside of you is worth fighting through the void which represents the darkness to come out and see the light." Having the Photoshop-generated work on the gallery wall felt both good and confronting, she said. By creating a visual representation of that feeling she hopes others feel less alone. During the TAFE course, she learned about studio lighting, best practices for photographing outdoors and for events and how to start her own business. Ms Stanojlovic is looking to freelance to photograph festivals and concerts. Photography teacher Andy Zakeli said the goal is to ensure all the students gain confidence with their equipment. "Once they have that they can photograph anything ... if you can teach someone to have the confidence they take their own journey and do whatever they want," the Wollongong West TAFE teacher said. Mr Zakeli worked as a press photographer for 25 years including for the Illawarra Mercury and began teaching in 2017. "I've worked around the world. I was a commercial photographer in between freelancing as well and I still work in industry with tourism," he said. In a bid to get the students outdoors and in a real-life scenario, Mr Zakeli challenged them to hold a photoshoot at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens. On November 3, the students learned about exposure in difficult environments and how to give accurate directions to a model. The other teachers at the TAFE, Meredith Schofield, Helen Nezdropa, and Linda Faier bring their own unique perspectives to teaching with a background in wedding photography and press photography.