Ideas and inspiration

In the last two decades, I have published three books and dozens of articles about the art and practice of photography, some of which have gained wide circulation and prompted debate. This selection will give you some useful background reading for the discussion sessions on our Retreats.

 Alpine foreget-me-not from  Nostalgia for Snow .

Alpine foreget-me-not from Nostalgia for Snow.

It's all about context

Imagine you’re at a really great party. There are lots of interesting people but as more and more arrive it gets louder and louder until all you can hear are random words. It becomes impossible to follow any conversations. The single  words you overhear are intriguing but, by themselves, don’t make any sense. Suddenly, the party seems a...

 The Bealach na Ba, Wester Ross, Scotland

The Bealach na Ba, Wester Ross, Scotland

WHy we need a history of nature photography

In the introduction to a massive book marking 60 years of the Magnum photo agency, critic and curator Gerry Badger comments, “As photographers realise that objectivity is probably [impossible to achieve] it becomes more acceptable to wear one’s subjectivity on one’s sleeve.” While he is commenting on the...

 Twin birches, Senja, Norway

Twin birches, Senja, Norway

Your stye is endemic - free it

You’re perhaps familiar with the notion that it takes 10 000 hours of concentrated application to become “expert” at any creative pursuit. So, if we’re able to apply ourselves properly for four hours a day, 5 days a week, we’re looking at around 10 years from novice to master. That’s a very imprecise figure of course, but it’s clear that ...

 Lady's slipper orchid, Queyras, France

Lady's slipper orchid, Queyras, France

narrative and expressive images

Not long ago, a photo tour company my wife and I do work for ran a training week for its guides, old and new, in Iceland. This was not only good fun but gave the opportunity for an exchange of experience, knowledge and ideas. I was particularly interested to learn about learning since it’s knowledge that informs how successful you can be as a teacher. I’d assumed...

 Arctic tern, Iceland

Arctic tern, Iceland

The problem with "images with impact"

It’s a ready standby, a frozen pizza, for the features editor who’s run out of ideas of what to feed his readers; do a piece on how to create Images with IMPACT! Perhaps it’s the easy alliteration that appeals; perhaps it’s the opportunity to use some undeniably striking pictures. Images with IMPACT! typically have strong colours, an unambiguous point of focus...

 Sea eagle, Alam Pedja, Estonia

Sea eagle, Alam Pedja, Estonia

nature photo tourism

“Hey, well done!” I greeted a friend a couple of years ago; a photograph of a red squirrel at his bait site had just won a national wildlife photo contest. But I’d jumped to the wrong conclusion. “Actually, it’s a client’s picture,“ he replied without any hint of resentment. Photo tourism, after all, is business: the provider does the work of establishing a bait site, 

 From Beinn Eighe, NNR< Scotland

From Beinn Eighe, NNR< Scotland

Legacy

One of the things that has always appealed to me about being a photographer is that week in, week out, I’m accumulating what critic Susan Sontag called, “...pieces of evidence in an on-going biography or history”. Photographs are visual accounts of a life, the things that have mattered to the photographer, the experiences they have had. They bear witness to a life in a less...

 Near Peebles, Tweed Valley, Scotland

Near Peebles, Tweed Valley, Scotland

what now for conservation photography?

We were optimistic, a little naive perhaps, but full of energy and the belief that we could forge new partnerships when the ILCP held its inaugural meeting in Anchorage in October 2005. I spoke about the work I’d done in the Baltic region and we heard many inspiring stories from mainly American photographers about successful campaigns they’d waged...

 Brown hare, Islay, Scotland

Brown hare, Islay, Scotland

AUthentic nature photography

I love the idea that, with camera in hand, I can make something beautiful that didn’t exist before. It’s a privilege accorded to all photographers, whether or not it is exercised. Most images I record don’t merit a second glance. A few please me. Fewer still please others and, in the process, set up a connection between viewer and subject. As a tour leader, I have seen the intense...