Photography alumna lands expert role in major BBC series


A Photography alumna has landed an expert role in new BBC Four series, the Great British Photography Challenge.

The series, which started this week, brings together a group of amateur photographers in order to discover the next big name in British photography.

Maryam Wahid, who graduated from BCU with First Class (Hons) in Photography in 2018, will feature in the second episode of the series, broadcasting on Monday 31 May.

The graduate sets a major task to the budding photographers to tell stories with a selection of images within the fruit section of Birmingham Wholesale Market.

She said: “I wanted the participants to document a story within the market, so I asked for 10 – 12 images which showed a sequence and told a story. I landed the expert role after being really active in networking, managing my social media, connecting with people from my industry, and I’ve participated in anything that has come my way.”

Maryam is no stranger to success. On her graduation day, she announced that she had been awarded the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain Award 2018, and soon after was awarded the Grain Photography Mentoring Award. Last year, she was also a judge on ‘Hold Still’, a photography competition which was spearheaded by the Duchess of Cambridge and led by the National Portrait Gallery.

But photography wasn’t always the plan for Maryam: “I always thought my passion for photography would be a hobby, never a career. I originally applied to study Religion and Theology at a different university. But a few weeks before I was due to start, I felt gutted that I wasn’t going to study something that I loved doing. I just knew that I wanted to do photography, so I attended a BCU open day during the clearing process and I loved the campus, the resources and the incredible access to facilities. I really enjoyed my course and Parkside was such a great, cool and edgy place to study.

“I have always felt like my camera is such a powerful tool and it has inspired me to tell stories and capture moments. Now that I’m learning more about photography, it is all about making a change and telling the stories that need to be told. I’m very big on representation and all my work is about identity. I don’t feel like there are enough women’s stories captured, so I want to represent myself and those around me in history.”

Later this year, Maryam is set to show even more of her work in two exhibitions: “I have two exhibitions this year and one next year. I am currently working towards them and trying out new ideas. One will be a group show at the ‘Side Photographic Gallery’ in Newcastle upon Tyne, taking place in July and I have another one taking place later this year at ‘Ffotogallery’ in Cardiff.

“But my first major solo exhibition will be at the Midlands Art Centre in 2022, which will feature work that I have been creating for over three years. Going forward, I want to continue my education around photography and to learn more about image making and storytelling within photographs. I also want to expand into video making, sculpture and textiles too.”

Maryam’s advice to current students is to make the most out of the university experience. She said: “Go to the library and use the resources – read more about the course, the industry and what inspires you. Also, ask your tutors how you can improve; they have been in your position before and you can learn a lot from them.”

Great British Photography Challenge continues on BBC Four on Monday 31 May at 9pm.

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