Debby Tansley: Not a Photo Finish

Digital Imaging and Photography student, Debby Tansley, is what we would refer to as a ‘success story’ here at the Hugh Baird University Centre.

Debby is the type of student that gets mentioned when a tutor is asked about the students who are excelling. Her work is the type that is put forward to be celebrated on the University Centre’s social media channels. She is described by staff as affable, hardworking, creative, talented, and engaging.

Debby is a mature student. She confesses that she found school difficult and initially left education at 16 without a single GCSE. After raising a family of six girls, she decided that it was time to invest in herself. Debby found her calling when working as a newborn photographer at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, but soon felt that her creativity was limited:

I didn’t have much confidence in my ability outside of what I was already doing due to having left school with no qualifications.

Debby initially investigated photography courses in other universities but battled with the idea of travel and expense due to having children still at home. Determined to find a course that suited her lifestyle, she researched courses in Liverpool, which led her to applying to the Hugh Baird University Centre:

I found out the tutors (Dave's) name and contacted him directly and he asked me to come in for an interview. I expected to enrol onto the Access course, but after the interview Dave encouraged me to start on the FdA degree. I was over the moon; I couldn’t believe that someone saw value in my work.

Debby started with us three years ago on our FdA Digital Imaging and Photography course. She excelled across the two years and graduated with a distinction in 2021, before returning to the University Centre to complete her qualification on the BA Hons Top Up course.

When asked what she likes about the course, Debby said:

I love that it gives me a chance to think creatively and work on projects that inspire me. I love photographing landscapes; I see beauty in nature. This course has given me the confidence to believe in my ability.

As part of the course, Year 3 students get the chance to produce a final project and display this at the creative industries degree show in the Hugh Baird University Centre. Debby, who confesses to having a real affinity with nature told us that her final project is aptly named: ‘Plant a Seed for Change’ and is centred around the world environmental crisis.

There is a lot of negativities around environmental issues, we tend to look at the negatives rather than the positives. I want to inspire rather than criticise.

Debby describes her project as a positive, immersive experience and is a mix of still images and videos, interspersed with audio taken at the time of the photographs:

I want people to feel a connection to nature, I will have plants and interactive materials so that people will be inspired to make their own change.

When asked what was next for her, Debby revealed that she has recently been accepted on the MA Photography course at UCLan in Preston:

I am really excited. To be able to carry on and continue in my passions is fantastic. Hugh Baird University Centre has given me the springboard to chase my dreams. I was just a girl from Netherton who left school at 16 and now I am going doing a master’s degree; I’m proud of myself.

I would definitely recommend Hugh Baird University Centre, Digital Imaging and Photography course. The tutors have been amazing, so supportive. We are also allowed to borrow equipment and have access to some great facilitie.

When asked what the most important thing she felt she had learned on the course, Debby said:

Honestly? I’ve learned that when you want something enough, anything is possible.

In Debby’s case, slow and steady really does win the race, completing her journey with Hugh Baird University Centre miles ahead of where she imagined. There is no need for a photo finish on this one, the sky is the limit for Debby Tansley. Debby’s final project can be viewed in the Hugh Baird University Centre between 20-25 May 2022, 9-3pm.

Do you think Photography is the career for you? Find out more and apply online here:

To view Debby's online portfolio, visit

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