Students from a specialist northern arts school have had their portfolios examined as part of their final degree work by four leading photography professionals on a special visit to the north east.
19 final year BA (Hons) Photography students from Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) benefitted from a wealth of industry experience and advice when the national photography experts attended a ‘Portfolio Review’ at the university-level campus in Hartlepool, and are now taking their advice on board as they head onto further study and employment.
Reviewing the students work was Lou Siroy, Deputy Picture Editor for the Weekend at Guardian, Dr Pippa Oldfield, Head of Programme at Impressions Gallery in Bradford, photography curator and editor, Zelda Cheatle, and commercial photographer, Chris Harrison.
Each student was given a 20 minute review session with the industry experts, and was able to show their final major project for a professional critique.
Student Emma Paling McGough, 44, from Bishop Auckland, took part in the review, where she discussed her colourful and contemporary collection of seasonal food photography.
She said: “I love creating beautiful, contemporary pictures of food. The concept is seasonal fruit, so I’ve taken a simple piece of fruit and constructed a dessert or a drink with that piece of fruit at the heart of it, and made one picture for each month of the year.
“The Review was a bit nerve-wracking because I have only ever shown my work to lecturers and my peer group, but it’s really good to get experience of showing your work to industry professionals. It’s useful to have the opportunity to speak directly with industry professionals who have relevant advice, it’s essential to get used to having someone look at your work and be as honest as possible.”
Emma, who was shortlisted for the Association of Photographers (AOP) Students Awards in 2016, and this year received the College’s Anjool Malde Award for Commercial Photography Pathway, plans to stay local after graduation and work freelance.
She added: “I’m already working on my action plan, contacting food retailers, manufacturers, restaurants, and publishers of local magazines. I don’t plan to take any time out; I want to keep the momentum going and not stop taking photographs.”
Commercial photographer Chris Harrison, said: “I thought the standard of work by the students, both technically and creatively, was very high and I was also impressed by their work ethic. The college itself is in a great building and the facilities were first class.
“I think it’s great that there is an Art and Design school of such a high standard in the North East, so that if you have talent you can achieve your potential without uprooting your whole life.”
Helen Crute, 69, from Neasham in Darlington, is a final year student on the photography degree course and has also been shortlisted for the Association of Photographers (AOP) Student Awards 2017 for her evocative work.
Her portfolio featured a collection inspired by seeing the Somme Crosses in Durham Cathedral, and the landscape photographer visited The Somme as part of her research.
Helen said: “The reviewers were great and we spent so much time actually talking about my work. Pippa Oldfield suggested one or two avenues to develop, and Lou Siroy and I talked about the benefits of using medium format cameras for some of my architectural/industrial landscapes, and they both seemed to like my work
“It’s amazing to have that contact with someone in the industry. I got such a thrill to have the guy from the Guardian to say he thought my pictures were beautiful. He said he would go into the AOP exhibition to look at my entry!”
She added: “This has been the most amazing experience of my life and has opened windows to a world I didn’t know. It has inspired me and, as a (very) mature student, it has rejuvenated me.”
Helen is now considering post graduate study with the possibility of a Master of Arts in the future.
Photography curator and researcher, Zelda Cheatle, said: “I was delighted to find a range and diversity of work from CCAD in Hartlepool. The professionalism of the students and their ability to present their work and discuss aspects of it and how they would move forwards was impressive.
“The ideas, the installation of their shows and the work produced in portfolios was of a high calibre and comparable with any of the universities in the UK. I wish them and the excellent staff very well.”
Jill Cole, Photography Lecturer at CCAD, said: “These are all leading photography professionals working nationally and internationally. The advice that they are able to give our final year students will be invaluable as the students start their professional careers. It is a privilege to have them here at CCAD and is testament to the quality of the course and the work that our students are making.”