2017 can be summarised as a tumultuous year. For Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) graduate Craig Waddell, however, the year has been a whirlwind of achievements. Web intern Rachel Lee spoke with the Photography - BA (Hons) graduate as he reflected on 2017, and planned for another busy year ahead.

Both the Scottish Portrait Awards and the Royal Scottish Academy recently recognised ECA graduate Craig Waddell as one the emerging talents from 2017. As a driven photographer, with his finger firmly on the pulse of society, Craig is already being touted as one to watch.

The Scottish Portrait Awards 2017 exhibition recently ended its run at the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh, which featured 60 finalists – 30 photographers and 30 fine artists. Although a photographer, Craig is actually one of the 30 fine art finalists. Honoured to have been chosen as a finalist for such a prestigious awards, Craig said, “It was incredibly special - there is a lovely feeling of achievement and validation when you’re included in something like that.”

Craig Waddell discussing work
Image: Ana Fernandez
Craig Waddell discussing work

“My lasting memory will be of all the amazing people I met at ECA. I’ve made a lot of incredible friends, who always inspire me. It has a really close knit and wonderful community.”

Craig Waddell, Photography - BA (Hons) graduate, 2017

When his colourful portrait didn’t meet the criteria for the photography category, the SPA judges – including fellow ECA graduates Gordon Mitchell and John Byrne – entered his photograph into the fine art category, alongside sculptures and paintings. Craig adds, “The validity of photography as fine art is sometimes challenged in more traditional circles, and it was really great to speak to the members of the judging committee who had stood by my work.”

Craig was presenting his 4th year ECA project; ‘Masc’ - a series of queer portraits that challenge the outdated idea of conventional masculinity. Celebrating individuals who flourish outside of society’s restraints, and inspire others to do so, is something that is important to Craig. “Although I would say I’ve gotten to the point where I’m very comfortable in my queer identity, it hasn’t always been that way, and I think it’s important to share diverse stories of the queer experience that show a spectrum of how you can express yourself.”

Cameron Downing, 2017 Scottish Portrait Awards finalist image
Image: Craig Waddell
Portrait: Cameron Downing, 2017 Scottish Portrait Awards finalist work
Portrait: Samuel Froggatt, part of the "Masc" photo series
Image: Craig Waddell
Portrait: Samuel Froggatt, part of the "Masc" photo series

Craig was also selected to be one of three contemporary photographers to work with Getty Images on Grant Thompson’s project; ‘Faces of a Vibrant Economy’. Craig said, “Shooting for Grant Thornton and Getty was a real professional milestone for me - it was my first large-scale photographic commission, and an amazing opportunity.”

The 100 portrait collection, which featured everyone from businesspeople to activists, meant a trip from Dundee down to Exeter, “I got to meet CEO’s and founders of some incredible companies, and shoot in some fantastic locations, including factories, warehouses and even a brewery!”

Crediting ECA with giving him the technical skills to pursue his dream career, Craig added, “My lasting memory will be of all the amazing people I met at ECA. I’ve made a lot of incredible friends, who always inspire me. ECA has a really close knit and wonderful community. That’s the bit I miss the most!”

Craig is currently working on a new project for RSA’s New Contemporaries 2018 exhibition early next year.


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