Alumni Services

Anna Henly

Photographer Anna Henly talks about the appeal of romantic, bonnie Scotland, her love of skiing and winning two BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.

Name Anna Henly
Degree Course BSc Mechanical Engineering
Year of Graduation 1988
Anna Henly

Your time at the University

I chose Edinburgh as I loved the idea of romantic Bonnie Scotland and historic Edinburgh - especially the Castle where I got married in 2010 - immediately after running the Edinburgh 10K to raise money for Macmillan Cancer!

I was also a passionate skier and was aware that you could ski in Scotland, as opposed to waiting 51 weeks of the year to go to the Alps for the 52nd. The first page of the university prospectus actually featured Hillend dry ski slope - I now live next door to it. I had various roles in the University Ski Club over the years. I organised all the Scottish ski trips, was the cook and then organised the four week ski trip to Murren, Switzerland to the Grand Chalet... I am still a keen skier and have spent 6 weeks this winter as a ski leader with the Ski Club of GB, working in Verbier, Switzerland and in Vail, Colorado.

I have wonderful memories of Edinburgh and it broke my heart when my four years were up and I had to leave. It took me 20 years to move back. I have lots of special friends from my time there.

Anna Henly

My summer jobs included working in a hotel in Wengen, Switzerland with another alumna Kirsty Maxwell, reluctantly working in a metal bashing company to try to get some engineering experience and working as Thomsons Holiday rep in Benidorm. I also did a bit of volunteering with Children’s Holiday Venture - taking kids from Pilton and Muirhouse swimming.

Coming to Edinburgh was way more important than my choice of degree - I started off with chemistry and switched to mechanical engineering in second year. I certainly wasn’t the most enthusiastic diligent engineering student - I think I was too young to make the most of the academic side of university and very daunted and intimidated by how clever all the boys seemed to be. There were only two girls on our course.

I am now doing an MSc in Petroleum Engineering at Heriot Watt, which I am finding fascinating, and getting straight A’s for - which certainly didn’t happen in the 80s when I was scraping through cleverly (as I thought) with 51%.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

I am now a commercial and portrait photographer; I work around the world and we have built a large photographic studio at home.

Ice matters

My most significant professional achievements have been winning awards twice in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year - the annual exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. The image from this year of a polar bear on top of the world called “Ice Matters”, won the environmental World in our Hands category.

In 2007 I won an award in the Black & White category for an Arctic Fox called "Encounter" - this was voted to be the “Visitors’ Favourite”. Winning these awards led to me being offered a couple of slots as a photography guide for a polar cruise company later this Year. Over the years I won lots of awards with the Master Photographers’ Association and am currently the contract Photographer for the new Forth Road Bridge (Forth Replacement Crossing).

My first job after uni was as a technical journalist - I trained with Morgan Grampian in London. Then I had a brief spell in PR in Germany with General Motors. I also worked offshore for five years for Schlumberger as a seismic navigator and still work offshore as a photographer, photographing Oil platforms etc.

Apart from work my current interest is triathlon with Edinburgh Triathletes. Two years ago I thought I would drown in my first open water triathlon and this year I am attempting Ironman Austria and raising money for Macmillan Cancer again.

Alumni wisdom

Try to minimise sleeping time and make the most of every minute you are conscious. Get involved with the sports clubs and societies. Try new things. Lots of them! It will never be so easy to try new things and be a beginner!

Related links

Anna Henly Photography