Landscape photography, especially in wilderness regions, demands a high level of dedication before a single image is captured. Planning trips to the Arctic is a long-term business requiring great commitment. Few have seen the faraway sites I have been privileged to visit in north-east Greenland, whereas the iconic landscapes of the north-west Highlands will be familiar to many hill-walkers – so my photographs could, I imagine, both open new windows and strike chords of recognition.
Typically, it is the recognition of a distinctive ‘spirit of place’ that has prompted a photograph. This is likely to have been the product of a particular state of the light, or perhaps a physical phenomenon, or some moment of pure visual delight encountered during a walk, rather than the kind of historical association with which a genius loci is traditionally linked. In any case, nowhere ever looks (or feels) exactly the same on different occasions and, by its very nature, every photograph is a unique record of time and place.
I want to share something of the impact these very special places have had on me. Even so, an expressive photograph must have a resonance beyond the particular circumstances of its origination. That is why, in my view, an appreciation of formal values is vital. My images tend to have a strong linear structure and a sensitivity to tone akin to a drawing. (Sometimes my photographs have actually been mistaken for drawings.)
Although my sense of composition is much influenced by my background in the fine arts, I don’t digitally alter or enhance what I photograph in any way beyond what is the normal practice for transferring images from camera to print. Each image must remain rooted in the time and place of its origination whilst ultimately taking on a life of its own. This notion may seem old fashioned to some but, in my opinion, it is what guarantees the integrity of a photograph without in any way diminishing the ‘creative vision’ of the photographer. As an exhibition curator once wrote about my work, I retain ‘a conscious faith in the power and poetry of the photographic document, persuasive in its accumulation of detail and as evidence of slowly evolving historical processes’.