Staff profile

Christopher Francis Burns

Technical Advisor - Photography


College of Arts, Humanities and Education



My post is a mix of working together with students on the Photography BA and commercial photography mainly, together with Fine Art, Graphics, Product Design etc. I facilitate inductions into various processes and photographic hardware, mainly analogue, some digital.

Also help to maintain all equipment from cameras, enlargers, lighting equipment and general maintenance within the department. I am also responsible for most of the PAT testing which is always ongoing.

Before my time at the University, after my City and Guilds Industrial Photography Certificate at Chesterfield, I became a Trainee Scientific Photographer at Pickford Holland Refractories in Sheffield for two years, I then took an apprenticed indentureship with The Derbyshire Times Newspaper (through the National Union of Journalists) in Chesterfield for three years which I passed.

I moved to the Derby Evening Telegraph as a Staff Photographer, stayed for around eighteen months, before moving back to Sheffield as a Senior Assistant Photographer at Grid Studios Ltd, Creative Industrial/Commercial Photographers and Designers who made high-quality brochures for clients such as Stanley Tools, Bassetts Sweets, Jacobs Chucks and many more steel industry-related firms, plus the Peak Park Planning Board etc.

Because of the steel industry decline, I moved back to Derby to work as a Technical Advisor at the University of Derby, for, I thought, two or three years and to improve my qualifications (which I did) and as you know I'm still here and working happily with the students.

Teaching responsibilities

During the years 1980 to 1984, I taught photography GCE '0'  and 'A' level at Kedleston Road and also taught photography outside the University for a few years.

Professional interests

Photography at all levels and interests, from professional (architecture/industrial/fine art/creative/technical) This can range from lighting for studios, on-site visits, sorting out technical problems for students for cameras and lighting techniques and out on-location problems.

I also, of course, follow trends in digital photography, Photoshop, digital cameras, etc.

I really enjoy doing the inductions for students into the various excellent facilities and equipment we have at Derby, in these Covid days bearing in mind Health and Safety concerns.

The creative side of Photography has always been an interest, and this is helpful for the students from the Fine Art side (BA). 

I try hard to keep up with changes in education and the photography industry. I usually attend the photography show at the NEC, not this year of course.

I keep a check on the ever-changing job roles in photography and associated areas in order to be able to guide students after their degree.

Research interests

Some years ago at Kedleston Road I did some research into black and white and some colour photography with Richard Sadler (Senior Lecturer) and put an exhibition up within the department at what was then the Derby Royal Infirmary. These were mostly landscapes.

Again, some time ago, I put some work in what was called the White Elephant Show, with several students, including the infrared work.

I've held a few other joint exhibitions around Derbyshire, again, mostly infrared black and white images, nothing of late!

Membership of professional bodies


Experience in industry

Additional interests and activities

Photography (of course!) travels, landscape, creative architecture interiors and exteriors.

Guitar - acoustic and electric. Late teens and early twenties I was in a melodic/blues group in Chesterfield, I sang (unbelievable now) and played lead guitar (early multi-tasking). 

Architecture history and general  (from GCE 'O' level).

Walking, have belonged to two long-distance walking groups in the near past going to mainly Wales, Anglesey and the Lake District.

Shopping with my partner Mary who is now retired but taught French and German.

Family of course, from Nottingham, Saundby (near Doncaster), Chesterfield, Belper and Sheffield. All my original family are from the Lake District, none left now, but it's still my spiritual home.

Since my early teens, I have practised martial arts (for self defence) in Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, and Aikido, lastly Jukado.

Still practising (or I was until Covid) with Gary Stringer (Jukado - his own system, a mix of everything) This is pure self defence and I'm a blue belt training for purple. We start again hopefully in July.

This has been a major interest most of my life, and I count myself lucky at my age to be still involved and still fit enough!