Photography festival flashes light on student talent

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Edinburgh College’s star snappers are about to display their skills at Scotland’s new international photography festival, Retina. Twelve graduates and students are exhibiting work at the inaugural festival, which runs from 17-26 July across Edinburgh.

The college photographers’ fashion photography will be on display at two Retina exhibitions designed to showcase fresh talent – the New Fashion Photographers event at Creative Exchange in Leith from 8-25 July (previewing in advance of the festival launch) and the Emerging Photographic Talent show at Harvey Nichols from 17-22 July.

The alumni and students’ work forms part of a prestigious programme at Retina including exhibitions by Scottish-born photography megastar Rankin and Helena Christensen.

The exhibitions include work from former students who have helped the college’s Professional Photography courses to a five-year winning streak at the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) Scottish Region Image Awards. This year, students scooped 22 awards and graduates picked up eight. The winner of the Professional Photographer of the Year 2014 Award, Edinburgh College graduate Lee Howell, will feature prominently in the Retina exhibitions.

Most of the Edinburgh College photographers at Retina graduated from the BA in Professional Photography, with three completing the HND in Professional Photography. Two of the HND graduates – Anneleen Lindsay, whose work will be on show, and Ross Parker, both of whom are going on to the BA next year – are doing six-month college-funded internships with Retina.

Edinburgh College principal Mandy Exley, who is the chair of the Retina organising committee, said: “I’m very proud to see the exciting new talent coming out of the college taking its place at the festival alongside some of the best-known names in the industry. The work on show is superb and a great tribute to the depth of talent we have at the college, not only among the students but in the teaching staff who have been integral to their development.

“This is the first year of Retina but the aim is to make it a long-standing fixture in the festival calendar. Giving young photographers the chance to show their work and begin making their names is a crucial part of the festival’s long-term plans, and we hope to see them achieve similar success as the big names at Retina.”

The festival is a not-for-profit organisation with a management team drawn from professional photography, creative industries, higher education and the media.

Alan McEwan, director of photography at Retina, said: “Edinburgh College students and graduates have had great success in national and international competitions over a number of years so we’re delighted to feature them at Retina. The exhibitions highlight the excellence of the images they produce for fashion photography.”

The official festival launch takes place in the ballroom at the Assembly Rooms on George Street on the evening of Saturday 19 July, with Rankin, Helena Christensen and Anna Freemantle, director of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival and curator of the Rankin and Helena Christensen exhibitions, attending.

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