Croft No. 5

Back in the day some friends used to have a band called Croft No. 5. They were at the cutting edge of Celtic fusion, well ahead of their time and a damn fine live act! Yeah, so it's possible that I'm a little biased but I've had their album on repeat this afternoon while I edit a shoot from earlier on the week on the Isle of Harris. More specifically, from a property shoot at Croft 5, Borve on the Isle of Harris.

Tenuous link? Maybe, but it's made my day complete! 

Harris has long been one of my favourite places. There are few venues better in the world for landscape photography than the Outer Hebrides, and Lewis and Harris feel almost like a second home to me. Gavin and Susan have just finished building their own home up there and their builders, Fjordhus, asked me to go up and take some photographs of the property for their portfolio.

This was an exceptionally satisfying shoot to work on, with one of the best sunsets I've seen in a while followed by an impressive sunrise, and combining stunning design with the perfect location! The idyllic Hebridean setting played well with my landscape work but interiors was something of a departure for me, which greatly added to the satisfaction for me personally.

There's nothing more dangerous for the creative than the risk of falling into a rut. You need to sink your teeth into a good technical and creative challenge from time to time. By stepping out of your established comfort zone you get your juices flowing, broaden your skill set and you come away not just a little a more experienced but also reinvigorated. When the opportunity to shake things up a little comes along with an excuse to visit one of the most beautiful islands in Scotland with some good people at the same time, then all the better. Huge thanks to Gavin and Susan and the guys at Fjordhus for the opportunity to do exactly that.

The Outer Hebrides

The Commute

It's a tough life, being a landscape photographer. All the driving, the cleg bites, the knowledge that the midges are almost here for the summer... All in all though, when you consider it, the office space more than makes up for the 04:30 starts and the 22:00 finishes, especially when you packed lunch contains a bar of chocolate and a miniature of cask strength Laphroaig.

I'm not long back from spending two and a half weeks on the road shooting landscapes for a long-term project that I'm working on. Being able to go away and focus on nothing but getting the shots I wanted was stunning: it's amazing what you can achieve in a couple of weeks with a little planning and a lot of bloody-minded alarm-setting!

The weather wasn't wonderful for the first few days of the trip so rather than pushing through to the islands immediately I meandered north, meeting a few friends and ticking a few landscape boxes I've wanted to tick for a while. The Buachaille, for example: everyone has a photograph of the Buachaille, but perhaps for that very reason it's very difficult to find a shot that you feel is your own. And Ben Dorainn was one of the very first places I ever went specifically just to take a photograph and has been overdue a re-visit for some time.

Ben Dorain

The Buachaille

I started at the southern end of the islands on Barra and Vatersay. It took a day or two to get into the groove, but Barra is definitely the place to be if you're trying to relax into your photography again. It was an act of discipline to catch the ferry on the saturday morning to head north for Harris and Lewis... there's just so much to see and to shoot out there, you could easily spend weeks on Barra alone.

One of the nice things about shooting landscapes is that you're often at a location either very early or very late to catch the best of the light. When I turned up at Callanish at 05:45 one morning  I was kind of expecting to have the place to myself: it was 05:45 - it's not the most sociable of hours. The sky was perfect, shaping up for an incredibly intense sunrise too: perfect.

Except for the 30 or so folks all stood holding hands in a ring within the main circle chanting to each other! There's not a lot you can do about that sort of thing (apparently it's bad karma to chase them off), but I've never seen so much stone hugging and sun worship in the literal sense.

I shall spare you more stories here, instead here's a few selected highlights from the trip: personal favourites, as they stand for the moment. Hope that you enjoy them, and if you do then spread the word and be sure to check out my facebook page.