What’s it like being an art student in Scotland?
I grew up in the Highlands and had always looked to the rural landscape and interesting local characters for inspiration. But when I moved to Edinburgh, I had to change my artistic perspective and learn to appreciate the very different environment I was now working in. In Edinburgh we’re surrounded by history, the cobbled streets of the old town and the mixture of new and old architecture side by side throughout the city is really inspiring. This backdrop provides amazing opportunities when photographing in locations both inside and out.
How did you go about choosing where to study for your degree?
Stevenson College was recommended by a number of people, the photographic department in particular is renowned for its huge and well equipped studio spaces. They also have a reputation for continuously producing award-winning students. I initially applied for Edinburgh College of Art but quickly realised that Stevenson’s professional photography courses were much more commercially focused. I felt that this offered me a better chance of employment at the end of it all.
The worst thing about your course was?
Our course included a short work experience unit, in which we had to source a placement and complete a minimum of 3 days work within the company. I think we would have benefitted from an organised placement with a professional in the industry for a prolonged period of time throughout the course.
The best thing about your course was?
The standard of teaching was fantastic. The tutors were always there to help and give support on all aspects of the course and offered professional advice on any personal photographic commissions out with college. Also, in third year, we were offered the chance to spend two weeks in Paris as part of an exchange programme. With the help of the Leonardo Da Vinci fund, all our expenses were paid and we were able to concentrate on completing our documentary photography unit and also organise an exhibition to showcase our work whilst there. This was an incredible experience! The dynamics of our class completely changed; being thrown into a different culture to work as we would at home, our confidence grew enormously and we became closer as a class.
Best advice that was given to you during the course?
Say yes to any job, and panic about it later! I always felt I had a strong network of professionals to contact if I needed advice on how to do something, therefore anything was possible. And I’m pleased to say I still feel like this, I know I can call on any of my tutors or classmates for help and they’ll be willing.
What would you say to young people wanting to pursue photography?
Go for it! Contact every photographer you know and ask for work experience, or just a chat about their work. Tap into any sources you have to gain knowledge and experience. Also apply for a professional photography course. There are so many different types of photography to explore and while studying you can experiment and try them all to see which suits you best.
How would you describe your works?
They are mainly environmental portraits showing the subjects in their work. I try to capture the individual’s personality and the character of their surroundings. I don’t enjoy working in the studio, I like the challenge of unknown environments and each location I shoot in is completely unique.
What equipments do you use when shooting?
My recent work is being shot on a Canon 5d mark ii and I usually use a 24-70mm lens to get as much of the environment in as possible with the wide angle lens. I have the Elinchrom D-Lite-It 4 kit which I use on location with an Explorer power pack, it’s a great portable kit and has seen some very interesting places.
The dream job is?
To be sent around the world to document the way different cultures live. To become completely immersed in their way of life for the months I spend there and photograph the people I get to know and show their stories. I’m desperate to explore as many places as I can, the dream is to get paid to do it and get to take photographs of everything and everyone I encounter.
Contact Mary Overmeer to offer her a job