Ross Henderson - MA Communication Design

Ross Henderson - MA Communication Design
Redundancy from the offshore engineering sector in 2015, prompted 52 year-old Ross Henderson from Kemnay, to return to university to pursue a BA in Commercial Photography at Gray’s School of Art from where he was inspired to study a MA in Communication Design.

Photography has always been a passion for Ross, who was given a 110-film camera aged 10 for a school trip to Guernsey. By his 14th birthday, Ross had graduated to a more up market SLR 35mm camera and his love for photography had grown.

Ross studied science and maths at Kirkwall Grammar and gained an Honours degree in Engineering at Robert Gordon’s Institute of Technology, graduating in 1991. A varied career in engineering, working both onshore and offshore, followed but after an uncertain period of redundancy, Ross saw an opportunity to change direction, to do something he enjoyed. That’s when he turned to professional photography.

Whilst studying a BA in Commercial Photography at Gray’s School of Art, a seminar mentioned the Masters Course which piqued his interest. Ross applied for the MA and was blown away when he was accepted and offered a place. 

“I saw it as an opportunity to further my knowledge which I gained in the BA Commercial Photography. I also thought that I could write a dissertation about anything which I could associate with my MA Project. Unlike engineering, where the written work is in a prescribed format.”

For Ross’s MA photography project, he focused on industrial remnants and ruins as he explains: “It opened my eyes to other places and areas which I did not previously know about. It also gave me more contacts in my neighbourhood, many who have a vast amount of knowledge of the locality. It was a really enjoyable subject and I feel I have sufficient material and images for a future exhibition.

 “I’ve really loved the Gray’s Master’s Photography course and was so pleased when I passed. I wasn’t sure if I would or not but when my results came through, I was amazed and over the moon.”

Throughout lockdown, Ross says his experience of the course was mixed with Covid lockdowns. He had to plan any field work with trips out to the supermarket or on daily walks, so was limited to local areas. He also didn’t get to know other people on the course fully as many of the seminars were online but it was still enjoyable.  

Ross says the highlight of the course was seeing his panoramic image of Tillyfourie Quarry, near Alford, printed on acrylic, on display at the Onwards MA Exhibition in Gray’s Look Again Space. This was a medium which he hadn’t used before and it really added depth and perspective to his image. 

Now that Ross has finished university and successfully graduated with a MA in Communication Design, he is working as a professional photographer and doing studio photoshoots for portraiture. 

Reflecting on his experience at Grays, Ross says; “The MA in Communication Design has made me aware of how important it is to work to deadlines and given me the skills to manage my time and cope with stress. I’m really looking forward to future exhibitions and to developing my work further. I’d really encourage anyone thinking of a change in direction, just to go for it.”

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