The edge of the world | Photography retreat on the Outer Hebrides

Retreats, Scottish Islands

There are only a few memorable times in life that we really truly let go and feel completely immersed in the moment. Our photography group who were attending the Outer Hebrides photography retreat with myself and Paul Sanders arrived at Mangersta to be confronted by 20 foot waves and gale force winds. We proceeded to be hit by horizontal hail whilst walking down to the beach.
I decided to ask who wanted to stay and shoot on the beach with Paul Sanders and who wanted to accompany me on a walk to the “edge of the world”
A few couldn’t resist my description and we set off, climbing the across the cliffs to the very end of the peninsula. As we hit the end we encountered the full force of the wind, several hailstone showers and huge rollers crashing below us, sea spray drenching us with each crash.
Our only option was to put the cameras down and to let go and embrace the explosive nature of the storm like conditions we were right in the midst of. Laughter seems to be the natural response when things get to this level of crazy.
Myself and Lesley walked over to what we thought might be a more sheltered spot for a while and spotted Jeremy literally in the sea. He was standing knee deep in a thick foam that was being created by the huge waves, attempting the capture images.
One of the things that is important in my own work is that the experience is part of the image. Without feeling the landscape, the image won't be powerful. Trying to explain this to others is very difficult though and it has to be learnt through the experience itself.
When I met Jeremy a few days earlier, I saw a kind, dedicated, precise, person who always seemed quietly and intensely dedicated to capturing images. But today, standing being splattered by sea spray and foam with huge waves crashing not far away, his face was simply alight with the sheer joy of being completely immersed in this wonderful experience. I then heard him say that he didn’t mind about the images and how perfect they were, he was just simply loving the experience of being in the landscape. My job is done.

3 Comments

  1. Lorraine Finney

    Such a beautiful story.

    I was definitely out of my comfort zone, battling with the elements of nature but it was so exhilarating and rewarding in different ways..

    A Photographers Lot by Andrew Finney

    Battling through the wind and rain
    As they say no pain no gain
    Ever searching for perfection
    But drab and grey in each direction

    Cold and wet can’t give up yet
    That unique image still to get
    Pushing on your grim determination
    Brings a moment of elation

    There within your camera lens
    A view of mountain and of glens
    Subtle blends of highland greys
    An image worthy of high praise.

    Reply
  2. Paul

    Lovely blog totally captures what the retreat was about, experience and being lost in the moment

    Reply
  3. Colin Smith

    The retreat will stay with me for a long time (at least until the next one that is!). The elemental and powerful weather, the beauty of the scenery, the friendship of my colleagues, what I learned and experienced photographically and the giving nature of our retreat leaders.

    Reply

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