I spent much of the last twelve months engaged in the pursuit of an HNC in Photography at Clydebank College. It was a fun year; hard work, but ultimately very satisfying. Applying for the course was a spur of the moment decision based almost solely on a fascinating morning spent in a hide at Sherwood Forest Centerparcs, photographing the local wildlife. I had such a good time that day, aided by the expertise of a very engaging young man by the name of Ian, that I felt utterly enthused with the idea of further study.
Up until that point I'd been fairly snap happy; enjoying the activity of taking pictures of my family, recording my cake-baking efforts and occasionally attempting to create something that might loosely be called art. I had joined a couple of Facebook photography groups - weekly competitions where you submit your image and wait for other people to vote for it. Or not, as the case may be. I had a few successes; more misses than hits, but enough to make me realise that this was something I could get better at. I read some books, took the camera out with me more often, looked at the images that were getting votes and thought about what I wanted to photograph. I made, and sold, a few greeting cards with my images on and looking back, you could see that there was progression. I was getting better. I also realised that I was loving it too. I could spend hours out with my camera taking photographs, and hours tweaking the results in Photoshop when I got home again. I'd have quite happily stopped doing the school run, stopped shopping, stopped cooking and stopped talking to people in order to spend the time with my camera instead. For the first time, in forty plus years, something clicked and felt right.
So. I opted for a wildlife photography session as part of my CP Easter break, and having enjoyed it even more than I'd thought possible, I applied to do the HNC as soon as we got home. It was such a spur of the moment thing that I hadn't actually thought much beyond the original application, so I was quite shocked to be asked to interview and even more shocked to receive an unconditional place on the course. This was scary stuff - I was going to be a student again!
Suffice to say, the course was everything I'd hoped it would be, and more. I was encouraged and asked to challenge myself. I made some new friends. I rediscovered film and rekindled a love of the darkroom. I learned that people and their environments are what make me tick. I realised that I most enjoyed being "out there" and recording stuff as it happened, but that also, I liked the discipline and order of quieter studio work. I liked working with models and engaging with them to get a "look". I knocked out some pretty good shots, but also understood that I will always be more creative than technical. And I wanted to keep going - keep studying, keep learning and growing. One of my lecturers seemed to think that the art school in Glasgow would be my best option but this seemed too out of reach, too wonderful a proposition for me to handle. I figured I should do the second year of study to get the HND and then think about art school, and so I applied to City of Glasgow College to enter into the second year of their programme.
Unfortunately, some administrative error meant that I still hadn't heard from them by the last few weeks of my HNC course. It took some perseverance to secure an interview and felt like a bit of a let down to be told that actually, they wouldn't be able to offer me a place unless some of their eligible first year students didn't take up their own places. I was on a waiting list. I'd have to wait. I hate waiting.
People keep asking me when I'm going back to college and I hate having to tell them that actually, I don't know. So while I wait, I thought I'd start a project. First of all, I've uploaded some of the digital files from my HNC course onto this blog as a starting point. I thought I might try and continue my studies anyway - all knowledge is good, right? I found the SQA guidelines for the units covered by the HND course at City of Glasgow and the idea is to do as much of this work, the research and development, as well as the taking of photographs, off my own bat. If I get a call from the college, all well and good, but if not, it's a project. And it doesn't have to be all work. I have a bunch of shots taken from my month in France that were fun to do - and which may form the basis of an idea for something else. A graded unit style project perhaps?
Anyway, that's the plan. We'll see how it goes!