June 18, 2020

Tony in the studio

A passion for photography since childhood led me to think about undertaking a photography degree when I had the opportunity to retire from a busy professional life. Suddenly, photography could become the new focus! How exciting it was when I discovered that Cardiff Met awarded a BA (Hons) Photography that I could apply for.

Presenting a portfolio of images taken over many years and an interview did not necessarily convince me that I would be accepted for the course. After all, it’s not just about quantity or length of experience, but also the quality of the work. But I did manage to get through the interview and assessment process, and was delighted to be accepted for the course.

The early part of my studies took me through the essentials and I was able to compare what I thought I knew (perhaps not a lot!) against the introductory modules that taught the photographic essentials.

Shooting on film
Shooting on film again was a lot of fun

Shooting with medium format film having, not having been in the darkroom using chemicals for a long time was particularly interesting. The course content was not only exciting but also it was great to mix with a cohort of mature students like myself but also young students looking to start their careers.

The final stages of the degree course presented the most exciting challenges for me and stretched my creative imagination beyond boundaries I would not have previously imagined.

At times I felt I was moving blindly forward but the tutor support throughout the course provided me with inspirational insights into my practice that I had not previously recognised, thus giving me the focus to move into completely new directions that I would not previously contemplated.

Two major pieces of work came out of my degree course. The first was Pioneers of Welsh Pop capturing fine art black & white portraiture images of the Welsh language pop, rock and folk pioneers that changed the landscape of Welsh music in the ‘Swinging Sixties’.

My two exhibitions featuring this work – one in central Cardiff and the other in North Wales – received much acclaim with live TV coverage of the exhibition launch and ultimately the collection was acquired and shown by the photographic archive of the National Library of Wales.

My final project was Identities Obscura which involved researching the style of 1940s Hollywood stills photography and challenging what some people today might see as stereotypical images with images that are more representative of today’s multicultural and diverse society and which more accurately explore the concept of identity.

The course has taken me on an amazing journey,  I’ve have taken images more recently that I would have never have thought possible just a few years ago. It has also been wonderful to work with and support students and staff in other courses, for example the Fashion Design degree course, where I had the opportunity to possibly enhance and demonstrate not only my experience but theirs too.

Would I do it again? Definitely yes!