Sevim Dogan – A photographer, writer and all-round creative

Sevim Dogan is a photographer, writer and all-round creative, who immigrated to Melbourne from Turkey with her husband in 2002, and has lived here ever since. At first, it was hard adjusting to life in Australia and she was still in the process of perfecting her English. 

Life for Sevim in Melbourne changed when she ‘stumbled’ upon the CAE website one day.  

“I was just searching for things to study so I felt more confident in a new country. My first one was a CAE creative writing course, but I postponed it because my English wasn’t as confident at the time.”  

This small setback didn’t deter Sevim, she was still in search of a community and career options to cement here new life in Australia. 

Student Profile: Sevim Dogan

“Instead I signed up for an abstract painting course with my husband, we did five weekends and I just loved it. Being there with like-minded people, it’s like a small community, the people may not be from the same background but your interests are the same. I actually met a really good friend, who I bonded with for a long time.” 

Sevim was busy exploring her options and had found the perfect place to do it at the CAE. After her initial painting course, she completed a flower design, floristry and photography course.  

“There was a florist shop for sale in North Melbourne, I thought I can do a short course at CAE to suss out if it’s for me or not. Although I loved the course, I realised the business was not for me.” 

This was all new for Sevim because in Turkey short course providers had been limited. The huge variety of courses on offer inspired Sevim and she felt empowered through learning new skills and meeting new people.  

 “I just kept saying to my friends back home, ‘It’s amazing!’ In turkey you need to be in the big cities to have these opportunities and even then it would be quite limited. I really appreciated how easy it was. If you want to learn something, it’s just there and it’s affordable.” 

Eventually, Sevim found her groove when she tried a CAE course in digital photography. This was a pivotal moment and would shape her life going forward.  

“The friend I met in the abstract painting, she was enrolled in Photography at a college. She put that seed in my head to study photography. But I wanted to do a short course to prepare myself first. I did a digital photography course at CAE and loved it, and I went on to further study.” 

Sevim still had a strong interest in creativity; years after her first short course she enrolled in a Life Writing Workshop with tutor Madeline Waters.  

“There was a massive gap from those early years of me being in Australia to the life writing course I did last July in 2021. With this life writing course I walked away with another set of like-minded people. 

 I’ve been wanting to implement journaling for as long as I can remember. I said to the class ‘Can you check on me and keep me accountable each week’, and for the first time in a long time I did my journaling.” 

Megan Water’s six-week course focuses on how to write a biography or autobiography. It teaches students important storytelling techniques and provides individual feedback. Sevim felt deeply inspired by her most recent short course at the CAE and can’t speak highly enough of the teaching she received.  

“The courses offer skills and connection, I feel like the teachers are committed, although they are short courses they are genuine. Megan was down to earth, easy to talk to and encouraged us to send her writing and she would give us feedback outside of class. I love it because you feel like you’re valued.” 

Sevim doesn’t like to confine herself to one creative path or title and believes undertaking short courses has given her the confidence to take on new challenges. She is now working on a book for her children, it’s a memoir that combines both written and photographic elements. Her advice to anyone who is lacking motivation, confidence or considering a short course is this: 

“We are allowed to be more than one thing, one creative path does not define us anymore. I love to write but I’ve never had the courage to call myself a writer. I thought that meant writing for a newspaper or publishing a book. After doing all of these courses, meeting all of these people, I’ve constantly grown and embraced that freedom of calling myself a writer without publishing that book.” 

Sevim reflects on her time at the CAE and has touching words to add to the impact it has made in her life. 

“When you are tender and emotional in a new place, you remember things that made it better for you. CAE was one for those things, I felt I was accepted and like I was not an outsider.” 

The CAE has a range of short courses that cover photography, visual arts, creative writing and much more. If you are lacking confidence or are interested in taking on a new challenge be sure to read our current short courses guide.