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Ian Rotherham

Senior Lecturer of Photography

UCOL Senior Lecturer of Photography Ian Rotherham

"I eat, sleep and breathe photography. Being able to work in this space, watching students put my lessons into practice, and seeing other photographers doing well - it's really exciting."

With over 30 years of industry experience, including nine solo exhibitions, a Silver Spool 'Master of Photography with Distinction' award and published photography books, Ian Rotherham is a pro with a camera. As the Senior Lecturer of Photography at UCOL Te Pūkenga, he's now sharing what he knows with those entering the field.

"I've worked hard and have been very involved in the industry for a long time. Working as a lecturer allows me to pass on my skills to the next generation of photographers."

But photography wasn't Ian's original plan.

"I started taking photos at age 14 - I was actually a painter and used to take photos to then paint. I became a member of the New Zealand Photographic Society and a member of the society commented on how good my photos were."

Transitioning from painting to photography in his early twenties, Ian found the social aspect exciting.

"I'm a real people person and my photos were much better than my paintings," he laughs. "And I liked getting out there to meet people, find out about them and capture moments in their lives to tell a story."

Alongside his photography career, Ian started work at UCOL in 2002, based in Palmerston North. Having taught so many ākonga, he finds it really rewarding to check in with past ākonga and hear how they're thriving.

"It's really great to see people again a few years down the track. You get to hear where their career has taken them. Some of my previous ākonga now have their own businesses and studios, some are showcasing their work in exhibitions - it's incredible to see them using the skills they learned while studying here."

UCOL's main photography programmes at the Manawatū campus are the Level 5 and Level 6 New Zealand Diplomas in Photography. Additionally, photography is also taught within UCOL's Bachelor of Creative Media, with short courses also offered for those who want to improve their photography skills for improving their own practice.

From learning the basics to studying specialised areas of photography, the photography programmes at UCOL offer ākonga real-world experience.

"The course is well known for its industry-focused approach. It's all about hands-on learning, getting out to meet new people and getting the best out of our students to help them succeed. We really encourage every student to explore their individuality, creativity, and carve out their own path in the industry.

"Every year we organise for ākonga to submit their work to the NZIPP Photography Awards, and if possible, also attend this event. This event provides some fantastic learning and really validates the quality of the photography work they do as part of their studies. Both UCOL kaimahi and ākonga have had great success at this event, with our ākonga having received bronze, silver and gold awards for their photography work, with a number of people who've previously studied at UCOL also having received the Student Photographer of the Year Award. 

"We also have enviable state-of-the-art equipment and photography studios here - nowhere else in the country has this level of equipment! Ākonga are able to hire equipment for their projects and the building is accessible at all times, so people have the opportunity to pop in after hours to study around their work or family commitments too."

Equally important is the help for students outside of class.

"There is support for everything you can imagine here at UCOL. Sometimes things don't always go to plan in your projects and that's ok! Lecturers may offer one-on-one guidance to help you get there - we make sure you don't feel alone in your studies."

Ian continues to work in the industry alongside his role at UCOL. He says he enjoys learning new industry trends, continuing to build his portfolio and gets a kick out of helping ākonga get into the field.

"Photography is my passion and I'm thankful for where this has taken me. I hope I can continue to help many more people find their feet and kick start their career in photography. The UCOL environment is an amazing place to do this.

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