Students bump into BAFTA photographer Andy Gotts

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On a recent field trip to Andy Gotts MBE’s Behind The Mask exhibition at the Lowry on Wednesday 5 November, second year Photography students from Tameside College were lucky to meet the photographer behind the work, completely by chance!

Photography lecturer Irena Siwiak Atamewan has more…

The Behind the Mask exhibition features a selection of Gotts’ work from his 20-year career which began assisting David Bailey.

Andy took his time to chat with us about his work – the techniques employed for a recent Harrison Ford shoot, for example – and took questions from students helping them gain insight into the practice, lighting techniques and composition used in his iconic portrait photography.

It’s an important part of their education to be able to meet and talk directly with industry professionals. When possible we include meetings with photographers, gallery visits, studio visits, and live briefs as much as we can. This takes them out of the relative safety of a college environment, into a taste of the world outside.

The students felt very privileged to have met Andy – they have come away from the exhibition and this fortunate meeting with inspiration and enthusiasm, ready to begin their work.

Behind the Mask
Gotts’ career has been spent photographing Hollywood’s A-list

Student Tamenay Sheikh told me: “I really enjoyed the exhibition. The images were very beautiful, and I like the fact that none of the work had been retouched, yet the celebrities were captured beautifully with all their imperfections.

“Listening to what he had to say about his work, and photography itself, was very insightful. He talked about how ‘it’s not your equipment, but what you see in the viewfinder at that moment’.

“He casually talked about how the week before he had Harrison Ford round his place to photograph; this was really strange and funny to hear, it was like some parallel universe.

“What is also interesting is how he has no extra help, it’s just him and his subject on a shoot, and he does everything himself.

“The work has given me more ideas for the portrait part of the brief and ideas for what style and techniques I could maybe use.”

The students are currently studying BTEC Extended Diploma in Photography at Tameside College, Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester.

The tutors, Irena Siwiak Atamewan, Kevin Linnane and Dave Bennett, are all practicing photographers – we are passionate about our own work and the students’  education.

The students are currently working on Studio brief entitled Recreations. The students study the work of other photographers and recreate it in the studio developing creative studio photography, knowledge and skills. From the skills and techniques gained students independently create their own images.

The final work will be exhibited in the Gallery Space at Tameside College towards the end of December.