2 February 2018

Budding photographers revealed aspects of life through the lens by staging a ‘one night only’ exhibition of their work.

Pictures and prints by digital photography students at West Nottinghamshire College were showcased to staff and governors, demonstrating the skills and techniques learned on their courses.

They had all previously attended photographic courses run by the college’s community learning team, who deliver adult education classes at venues across Mansfield and Ashfield including libraries, community centres, schools and village halls.

The idea for the evening exhibition came from college principal and chief executive Dame Asha Khemka, who was so impressed with the high standard of the students’ work, she felt it deserved an audience.

Held at the Derby Road campus, Mansfield, last week (Thursday 25 January), it included images from 20 learners who had studied on two advanced photography courses over the past eight months. Both courses featured various aspects of the college as photographic subjects, including beauty and sport students, behind-the-scenes in its commercial restaurant Refined, a live band performing in its creative industries hub Create, and Dame Asha, who was photographed in the workplace.

Other exhibits included some of the students’ fondest images taken outside of the college, ranging from local landscapes and favourite holiday destinations, to iconic structures, animals, and real-life subjects including friends and family. Students use the college’s dedicated photography Facebook group as a platform for sharing their latest snaps and exchanging ideas, and organising photo-shoots in their own time.

Exhibitors told governors what had inspired their images and explained the techniques used to capture their subjects, along with their reasons for enrolling on their course, taught by photography tutor Richard Edwards.

Dez Bakewell, a 48-year-old timber company manager from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, said: “I had owned a camera for quite a while but hadn’t really used it properly, so I thought I’d sign-up for a course. It just snowballed from there.

“I did the introductory, intermediate and advanced courses, and the light-room photo editing course too. I’ve learnt a massive amount and enjoyed developing my skills, learning new techniques and meeting like-minded people who’re interested in the same thing.

“Now I try and get out with my camera at least once a week. I’ve got the photography bug!”

Pamela Holt, 58, from Rainworth, also attended the introductory, intermediate, advanced and light-room courses, joined by husband Martin.

She said: “I’ve always liked photography and we kept seeing beautiful photos on Facebook of places such as Snowdonia in Wales and Whitby in North Yorkshire, but I could only take basic shots.

“Sadly, my sister Andrea passed away a couple of years ago and I decided to buy a really nice digital camera with money that she left me, but I didn’t know how to use it. A friend told us about the beginners’ course so we went along, liked it, and just carried on from there.

“The photos that I take are creating memories – of the places that Martin and I have visited, and of Andrea herself. My camera is a permanent reminder of her, and I can capture new memories to enjoy time and again.”

As well as being a legacy to her sister, the soft furnishings business-owner says the course has helped her adopt a slower pace of life.

She said: “It gets me away from the pressures of work and I can totally switch-off. It’s also made me slow down because I’m usually rushing around, but you can’t rush when taking a picture – you have to take your time.

“I just love what Martin and I are producing and it’s great to sit back and look at our photos. I wish I’d done this years ago.”

Peter Rowley, team-leader for adult and community learning, said: “The standard of work produced by the students is absolutely fantastic. Many had only used their cameras on auto-mode prior to the course and they’re now utilising the features to their full capacity to really bring their photographs to life.

“They’ve come such a long way since the introductory course and are taking stunning pictures which they can be extremely proud of.

“It’s also great to see the camaraderie between the group. They’re using Facebook to share and comment on their photos and exchange tips, and they’ve continued to meet-up outside of college to arrange their own photo-shoots in the local area and the Derbyshire countryside.

“Some are even coming back to do the courses again, which shows how much they’ve enjoyed them.”

The college offers more than 250 short courses delivered at more than 50 venues across Mansfield and Ashfield, attended by 1,300 adult learners each year. Courses range from aromatherapy, crafts, counselling and IT skills to English, maths, performing arts, and water-colour painting.  These are provided in partnership with local community, voluntary and statutory organisations including Space Inclusive, NIDAS, Spectrum Wasp, Mind, Framework, Mansfield District Council, Nottinghamshire County Council and children’s centres.

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