He spent two decades selling watches but Lee Howell has shown that it is never too late for a career change.
The father-of-one, who signed up to a part-time photography course at Edinburgh’s Stevenson College at the age of 40 after 20 years in the watch and clock industry, has been recognised by judges in a national photography competition.
Lee, now 42, who lives in Trinity, secured runner-up spot in the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) awards 2012 with an atmospheric shot of ballerina Lesley-Ann Hastie modelling a gown by Edinburgh designer Elizabeth Pittock on Calton Hill.
The former sales director, who is now studying for an HND in professional photography at the college, said: “I was delighted to be recognised by the British institute as it is one of the most prestigious photography organisations in the country. It fuels the passion to go on and win it next year.
“Following a 20-year career in the watch industry, I decided on a career break in order to look after our daughter, Amélie, and had always been an enthusiastic photographer, so initially signed up to the course to get to know my camera better. However, I got on so well on the course that my tutors encouraged me to continue for the HNC and HND course.
“The tutors and lecturers there encourage you to aim for the top and take your photography as far as you can.”
Lee, who lives with his partner Kelly Homer and four-year-old Amélie, received a plaque and certificate for his efforts at the British Film Institute in London last month.
He left his position as a director of watch company Timesource, based in Peterborough, three years ago.
The photography student’s winning image was originally taken as part of his course in November last year.
“Elizabeth asked me to photograph the dress and it was one of those images that stuck out in my mind,” he said.
Lee plans to undertake a BA at the college after the summer.
He added: “Coming from a sales background, I’m fascinated by people and capturing people’s emotions through my images.”
Head of photography at Stevenson College, Alan McEwan, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Lee achieved the runner-up award from the British Institute of Professional Photography.
“His image is of an excellent technical standard and shows a high degree of originality and imagination.
“Having come into photography as a mature student, he is also a classic example of why it is never too late to consider a career change.”
Lee’s next assignment will be in Paris with the rest of his class, where they will complete one of their units for the course and hold an exhibition in the French capital.