Moray Student Wins National Photography Competition

Wednesday 22 June 2022

A student in Moray has won a national photography competition. Olivia Barnett, who was aged 17 when she entered the competition and in her final year of studies at Gordonstoun, won first prize in the national finals of a competition for young photographers held by Rotary Club of Great Britain & Ireland.

The theme of the competition was ‘Colours of Nature’ and Olivia’s stunning photograph of a red deer stag also won first prize in both local and district stages of the competition before being put forward for the national award in the Senior category for young photographers aged from 14-17.

Olivia said,

“I just adore nature photography. My family and I were on a road trip when I took this photograph of the stag. We were driving towards Applecross when we saw the stag lying on the ground surrounded by stunning scenery. Once we had parked, I got out and started taking photos. To my surprise, the stag was very timid, and I was able to set up and get reasonably close to him. After several attempts, I was able to get a shot I was happy with. For a while, we watched the stag before it got up and walked into the hills. It's sometimes luck that puts you at the perfect place at the right time.

“I had never studied photography before attending Gordonstoun in Year 12 and now, in September, I will be studying Marine Photography and Natural History at university. I have learned so much from all my teachers, including Mrs Wendi Van-Hoof, my incredible photography teacher who has taught me so much over the last two years! I feel so lucky to have found something that I am so passionate about.”

Olivia is presented with her award by Elgin Rotary President, Ian Brodie

Elgin Rotary President, Ian Brodie said:

“Rotary Elgin is very proud of the entry which Olivia sent to the club during our photographic competition. The judges were delighted with Olivia’s stunning entry. We invited her to come to the club and she gave us a short explanation of how the photo shoot came about. We entered the photo for the Rotary District competition and Olivia won that also. A great accolade for Olivia and the club. Well done, Olivia.”

Principal of Gordonstoun, Lisa Kerr said:

“Olivia has distinguished herself as an extremely talented photographer during her time at Gordonstoun. In her role as Captain of Photography she has already taken photographs of life at school which have been published in national magazines. I am so pleased that her skill has been recognised by the Rotary Club and I am sure she will be extremely successful in her future career.”

The Young Photography competition is one of ten competitions organised annually by Rotary which is open to all young people aged from 7-17. All students who enter receive a certificate, with the winners receiving a trophy and a cash prize.


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Gordonstoun is a not-for-profit independent boarding school which was established in Moray, Scotland in 1934 by Dr Kurt Hahn, a Jewish exile who fled Nazi Germany. He founded the school with the ideal of developing better world citizens equipped to contribute to society. Dr Kurt Hahn was the driving force behind the Outward Bound Movement and also worked with former pupil Prince Philip to establish The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards. Gordonstoun has been a pioneer of character education which, as well as academic subjects, includes outdoor activities, sailing and service to the community. Three generations of British Royalty were educated at Gordonstoun including the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. Approximately one third of the pupils at the co-educational boarding school receive financial help in order to attend. The school was described as ‘outstanding’ and ‘sector-leading’ in its most recent inspection and was voted the best boarding school in the UK in 2021.