My interest in photography did not begin with books or mentors but evolved through a fascination of the natural world that shaped all parts of my life and brought them together. The desire, however, to communicate the way I felt about mountains and wild places began ironically, not on dry land but beneath the waves. With little photographic knowledge, I created a portfolio of images around Scotland’s coastline and in the Red Sea and was surprised to win ‘best newcomer to underwater photography’ in the Camera Beneath the Waves competition in 1981. Working at the time as an operations manager it was the catalyst that changed my life, and following a stint on a North Sea oil platform as a photo-technician, I was soon following a career as a professional photographer.
In my formative years, I experimented with different genres of photography but found myself concentrating on commercial photography which was, by far, the most lucrative. Commissions by advertising and design agencies for clients in the travel, lifestyle, and leisure sectors paid the bills and helped to establish my reputation as a photographer, allowing me the freedom to pursue personal projects – for the first ten years of my career, I had been living other people’s dreams and not my own.
Concentrating almost exclusively on the panoramic format, I set out to photograph Scotland’s wild places in what I believed would be a new and visually exciting way, the results of which were published in two books; Highland Wilderness (1993) and Scotland –The Wild Places (2001), in partnership with Constable. During the mid 90s, I was also commissioned by British Airways to photograph four corporate calendars – with briefs that took me around the world many times to photograph some of its remotest corners and many of its fantastic indigenous cultures.
During this time, I roamed the Argentinean pampas with gauchos, lived amongst the Himba in Namibia’s Kaokoland, survived a week in a ‘bush camp’ with Aboriginal Australians, and documented the life-long relationships between Sri Lanka’s mahouts and their elephants. Inevitably, I have had a few scrapes – I flew from Kunming in China to Perth, Australia with a fractured skull having survived a taxi accident, and spent five weeks in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains with a herniated disk – the consequences of food-poisoning, neither of which I would like to repeat.
Over the past 10 years, I have worked on a variety of documentaries featuring photography, mountains and travel and most recently on Mountain Man which was filmed in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains. I continue to work closely with the creative community and with the corporate sector with clients such as W H Malcolm, Hornby Hobbies, Calmac, Talent Scotland and Bowmore.
My passion for mountains and wild places is shared through a portfolio of photography workshops where the emphasis is placed on the development of personal vision. Photography expressed in terms of technique alone is unintelligible to me, despite having practiced it for three decades.