An 18-year old Donegal student has beaten stiff competition from thousands of amateur and professional photographers from across Europe to make the final 12 on Sky Arts series Master of Photography.
Leaving Cert student Molly Keane, from Barnesmore, is the youngest contestant on the second series of the show which is offering one photographer the chance to win €150,000.
Her eight portraits impressed producers and the judges who included renowned documentary photojournalist Darcy Padilla, Guardian picture editor Caroline Hunter and Italy’s Oliviero Toscani.
Molly told the Irish Independent “It’s such a prestigious jury – it was amazing to know that those three people chose me based on my photographs,” says Molly, who applied online before facing a Skype interview and then a further wait to hear if she was selected.
“The Skype interview was incredibly daunting,” she says. “Our Skype wasn’t working properly. I live in the Barnsmore Gap in Donegal and our internet is a bit dodgy at the best of times! I couldn’t see them but they could see me! But it was actually a good interview in the end.”
Molly clearly impressed as a week later, while sitting in music class at Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town, she found out she was heading to Rome for the competition.
The series takes place over eight weeks culminating in a final in which four photographers vie for the prestigious prize.
Each week the contestants face a series of tasks which test their abilities, skills and instincts in a range of styles and disciplines including street photography, travel photography, celebrity portraiture and erotica at a variety of locations including London, Hamburg, and Sicily.
“I’m only 18 so I’m not tied to a particular genre of photography,” she says, “My style is still developing so I kind of saw that as an advantage. Obviously my lack of experience is a slight disadvantage but I felt I was more kind of open to exploring different genres.”
“It was really crazy knowing I wasn’t going back to school after Christmas but not knowing for how long. It could have only been a week or it could have been two months.”
She had missed her mock Leaving Cert exams and had some catching up to do, although she says her teachers were incredibly supportive as were her parents, radio documentary maker mum Alison and television director dad Gary.
“In terms of coming back to school it was a really strange experience,” she admits. “I had been living completely independently in Rome in an apartment just being completely immersed in photography so it was difficult to come back to school.
“But my teachers were really great and helped me out on anything I had missed, anything that was stressing me out.”
Molly, who has two brothers (Eddie, 15 and Tom, 11) admits she’s “not too worried” about the Leaving Cert exams as she applied to IADT Dun Laoghaire – where her parents both studied television and met and where her boyfriend is now currently studying – to study photography and earned the maximum 600 points for her portfolio.
“I’m debating now about whether or not to go to college or just move up to Dublin from Donegal and try to actually make a stab at working as a photographer for a year and see how it goes. I’m not 100 per cent sure what to do,” she says.
Master of Photography airs weekly on Sky Arts from Thursday 25 May 2017 at 8pmTags: