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'Big Picture' win for ex-marine

Ex-marine photography student, Matthew Elliott, wins 'Big Picture' competition.

Matthew Elliott, a second year Foundation photography student at Plymouth College of Art, has won a national photography competition held by Telegraph Travel. The weekly ‘Big Picture’ competition selected Matt’s submitted photo as round 221’s winner.

The winning entry was taken as part of a Summer project. “I had to portray what I thought it meant to be British in 2012. On a personal level I see us as being an eccentric bunch and I think this was highlighted in the opening ceremony of the Olympics with Danny Boyle’s work. I took this image on Westminster Bridge just before the Olympics, I had to bribe my children to stand there with the masks on, and this proved really entertaining for all the tourists who walked past. The atmosphere in London was amazing that week and I think our Capital did us proud.

I think it’s fair to say; if you ask what people think of when they think of London, regarding tourists, it would be the Queen, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. I wanted to make an image with postcard aesthetics from a personal point of view, which is why I carefully chose the masks and the colours of the clothes which my children were wearing.”

Matthew, age 40, has lived in Plymouth since he joined the Marines and his family is settled here “I was lucky enough to live in a City which has a dedicated college of art and furthermore runs a BA Photography degree.”

“I have come to College as a mature student with a family to support so probably have a bit less time to myself. My passion in life, apart from family, is my photography. I live, breathe, sleep and think about it all the time. I guess you could say I’m obsessed with it. The college has helped me grow in confidence and I’m doing things I wouldn’t have done a couple of years back. This year I was lucky enough to have been picked from 3000 entrants to appear on the BBC’s Show Me the Monet, which was shown this Summer on BBC2. I would say on the whole though being at college has opened my eyes to a lot more and I’m always happy to be there.”

As an ex-marine, Matthew hopes to visit Afghanistan before 2014 to work in with his dissertation. “I’ve been told I read well into situations and this would, for me, be a natural progression.” When asked what he hopes to achieve after completing his course, he said “I would love to get some of my work into the National Portrait Gallery in London. This is a gallery I visit a lot and I love the diversity of images on show there.”

For his winning entry, Matthew will receive a Nikon Coolpix S9300 camera worth £299.99 and his submitted photo has been published on the back of the Telegraph Travel.

The photo can be viewed at www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/picturegalleries.