Parliament exhibition explores Scotland through the lens of photography students


Artwork from some of Scotland’s most talented amateur photographers is to go on display later this month as part of a new exhibition at the Scottish Parliament.

The exhibition, Higher Vision, will showcase some of the best images taken by 26 students from schools and colleges from all over the country who have completed the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s Higher Photography course over the past year. The exhibition will be on display to the public from Tuesday 20th November 2018 to Friday 8th February 2019 and entry is free.

The exhibition provides a unique insight into what life in Scotland is like through the lens of these students and captures people and places from their own outlook. From Scotland’s diverse landscapes and our environment to portraiture of people who have made an impact on their lives. These images also explore issues of identity, adolescence and mental health.

Held in partnership with SQA, and the Scottish Society for the History of Photography, the exhibition captures a selection of the talent that has been displayed by over 2,300 Higher Photography candidates over the past academic year. Taken from students’ projects produced as part of their course assessments, which counted towards their final grades, a panel consisting of photography and industry experts chose the images that will be featured. 

The Presiding Officer, the Rt. Hon. Ken Macintosh MSP said:

“This is a really impressive exhibition which tells a moving story about what life in Scotland is like from the viewpoint of these students. Photography is such a powerful medium and I am delighted that the Parliament can showcase the talent of these amateur photographers by putting their work on public display.

“I hope this exhibition inspires but also challenges us to think about what life in Scotland is like from a different perspective. The images offer an honest but also an uplifting story of what matters most to these young people from every corner of the country.”

Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, said:

“Higher Photography is a demanding qualification, and it asks a lot of the learners who undertake the course. Candidates are expected to plan, develop and produce creative and technically proficient photographs, and develop skills that are valuable for learning, life and work. The images produced by the twenty six candidates who were selected for the exhibition are simply stunning. The Higher Photography course allows candidates the chance to broaden their skills and creative talents, and to widen their horizons about opportunities for employment within the creative industries.”

Alexander Hamilton, Chair of Scottish Society for the History of Photography, said:

“A generation of young people are getting a wonderful introduction to the world of photography, especially Scotland’s important role in its evolution. The Higher Vision exhibition is an impressive demonstration of photographic talent from across Scotland. We look forward to featuring the work in our journal Studies in Photography, which offers insights into the historic as well as the new contemporary voices that are shaping the direction of photography in Scotland.”


The images in the exhibition were produced as part of each candidate’s course assessments and counted towards their final grades. SQA selected 80 of the strongest candidates, with ten from each of the eight parliamentary regions of Scotland. It was then whittled down to the 26 students whose work will now be on display.

The photographs were selected by a curatorial panel including representatives of the Scottish Society for the History of Photography, The National Gallery of Scotland, Out of The Blue, a student from Edinburgh College and the Parliament’s official photographer.

An example of a candidate’s work from each parliamentary region is presented in Studies in Photography, the journal of the Scottish Society for the History of Photography. Copies of the journal are available in the Scottish Parliament Shop. As well as SSHoP, SQA and the Scottish Parliament, Higher Vision is supported by Triodos Bank, A&M Imaging, Scottish Council on Archives and National Galleries of Scotland.

Find out more about visiting the Parliament at



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