I’m quite a restless photographer. I have to admit that I’m not the type who can photograph the same thing over and over and still have an interest in it. I also believe that photography is about experimentation, especially if you want to learn your craft and grow as a photographer. So I’ve experimented quite a lot over the years which is why my portfolio is quite diverse in content.
Abbie: When did your passion for art first ignite?
Dave: Back in the late 70’s. It turned out I was actually a pretty good painter in school and I had a good art teacher. I remember the first painting I did of a castle in the clouds. We used to live quite close to a castle at the time and I guess that was my inspiration. I recall being complimented on my use of shading on the castle walls. It made a change from being told how bad I was at physics and chemistry so I naturally gravitated towards art as a means for more positive feedback.
Abbie: What drew you to photography?
Dave: My grandfather had an old Box Brownie tucked away in a cupboard which I discovered one day when I was probably around 8. There was no film in the camera but it was fun to play with and look through the viewfinder. I could ‘play’ photographer. My mother had a Zeiss camera, but I wasn’t allowed to use that (too expensive), so my first camera came about as a result of saved coupons from the back of a cereal packet. It was a Kodak 110 camera with one of those square flash bulbs that rotated to the next flash when you wound the film on. I had great fun with that little camera snapping family and friends. The artistic side came later.
AC/DC ‘If You Want Blood’ – I’ve been a fan of AC/DC since 1977, especially the early (Bon Scott) years. Fortunate to have seen them on a few occasions
Dave: I switch between a Fujifilm XT-5 and a GFX100s. Both serve different purposes as well as a backup for each other. For film work I use a Hasselblad 503CW for medium format and a Nikon FM3a for 35mm. The camera that gets used the most though is probably the XT-5, because it’s light and convenient.
Abbie: What led you to choose the Fujifilm APS-C system?
Dave: I initially chose Fujifilm’s APS-C system to save on weight and move away from full frame, which I’d always used up until about 5 years ago. Age and a problematic back prompted the shift. The APS-C format allowed me to save weight on both the camera and lenses. My first Fuji was the XT-2 which was a drop in resolution from my old Nikon D810. It was a great camera but after a while I missed the detail so I also bought into Fuji’s GFX medium format system. I know that seems a bit daft given that I wanted to save weight, but it gave me options – the lighter APS-C for everyday use and travel, and the GFX when I needed the higher resolution and my back felt up to it. Both are brilliant cameras, though the increase in resolution now offered by the XT-5 has me wondering if I still need to keep hold of the GFX100s. No firm decision on that yet.
Abbie: Do you use photo editing software? How do you approach editing your photos?
Dave: Predominantly Adobe Lightroom, which I’ve been using since the first beta way back in 2006. Also Photoshop, which I’ve been using for longer than Lightroom, Silver Efex Pro (which I use for b&w work) and Luminar 4 which I like because it brings extra capability to the table that Lightroom and Photoshop currently don’t offer. I try to live by the mantra ‘enhancement, not manipulation’, so most of my editing is just general adjustments of the RAW file that you’d expect, though I like to have a clear vision of the finished image before I start i.e. whether it will end up as colour, b&w or a tone of some sort.
Abbie: Among your editing tools, which one is your favourite?
Dave: I’d have to say Lightroom. The capability of Lightroom has improved significantly over the years, so I can get much more done in it now than I used to. I’ve also been using Lightroom for so long that it’s second nature now, so it’s an application that I feel perfectly at home with.
I have a dog who loves to travel with me when I’m out on a trip. She’s an 8 year old attention-loving Cocker spaniel named Porridge
Abbie: Do you enjoy the process of photography more or the editing afterwards?
Dave: Six of one and half a dozen of the other. I enjoy being out, photographing and away from it all. I spend much of my time in the Scottish Highlands or out on the islands. I love the peace and quiet and, quite often, having the place all to myself. But when I’m back I enjoy looking through the images and seeing what I can get from them. I like the creative process from start to finish. The same goes for film; I enjoy shooting and processing it. It’s a shame I don’t have a darkroom anymore (I don’t have the space) but when I used to I’d spend hours in there dodging and burning prints to get them just right.
Abbie: If you could meet any other photographer, dead or alive, who would it be?
Dave: Tough choice. I’m not a street photographer but I would liked to have met Vivian Maier. Such an immense body of beautiful work which never saw the light of day until after she died. She never tried to show it, never tried to be recognised and spent her life in obscurity. Now, amongst photographers she’s a household name. By all accounts she was quite a private individual, so I’d like to know what drove her to produce the work she did and how she’d feel about the recognition she has today.
Abbie: Among your own works, which is your favourite piece and why?
Dave: Probably ‘Autumn on Loch Leven’. I spend days out and about in the Scottish wilderness in all weather, waiting and hoping for the elements to align and create something spectacular for me to photograph. I can tell you that rarely happens, so most of what I produce is a compromise between my vision and what I’m presented with on the day. This photograph though has all of the right elements for me. I love the strong, early morning sunlight which catches the autumn trees, the perfect reflection in the still water and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. However, as an image it wouldn’t work without the canoeist, and that was pure luck. They just happened to turn up at the right time and paddle across to the perfect spot to balance the scene. I’d only been there 5 minutes so there wasn’t even any waiting around. It’s surprising how many people have asked me over the years if that canoeist was added in Photoshop, or if I knew them and asked them to go to that spot. But it’s all natural, as found on the day. I guess when a scene looks too good to be true it raises those sorts of questions though, especially these days.
Abbie: How do you handle criticism, and does it affect you?
Dave: I’d have too say it depends on who’s giving it 🙂 If it’s about my work and it’s constructive and it’s coming from a peer whose work I admire, have at it. If it’s from my wife because I’ve let the dog in with muddy feet, I probably deserve it. If it’s from an online ‘troll’ whose just trying to make themselves feel better then that’s what the ‘block’ button is for.
Abbie: Your photography takes you to various beautiful locations. How far do you usually travel for your photo shoots?
Dave: Most of the time it’s a few hundred miles if I’m within Scotland. I have a camper van though so I’m usually away for a week or two at a time. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled quite extensively across Asia, within Europe and across North America and I still do when the opportunity arises.
Abbie: Have you tried drone photography, and how has it impacted your work?
Dave: Yes, I started drone photography about 7 years ago and have been using it frequently since then. Drones are incredibly useful for capturing shots from unique angles and reaching hard-to-reach locations.
Pink Floyd ‘Comfortably Numb’ – Also a huge fan of Pink Floyd, though unfortunately seeing them play as a group is something I’ve missed and I don’t suppose there’s any chance of that happening now. I did manage to catch the Roger Waters’ tour a few years ago though.
Abbie: What’s your most cherished photography story?
Dave: This one got me thinking… A few years ago a friend approached me with a photograph he had of his father who had recently passed away. It was a very old photo from when his father was much younger, probably in his mid-20’s, and he’d found it when going through his father’s possessions. At some point over the years water had got into the box where the photo had been stored and damaged it considerably. He didn’t have any other photos of his father as a young man and he asked me if I could do anything with it – try and restore it in some way. To be honest the damage was so bad I didn’t hold out much hope of being able to do much with it, but I decided to give it my best shot. I think it took the biggest part of two days to painstakingly piece the image back together, but it turned out much better than I expected. He was overjoyed with the result and I got the satisfaction of a job well done. It was nice to be able to do something with my skillset for someone else that meant so much to them.
Abbie: You’ve had exhibits in galleries before. Could you share some details about them?
Dave: I’ve had a few over the years in galleries within the north east of Scotland, one in London, a couple of exhibitions when I lived in the Netherlands and also a gallery in Chicago. It’s not something I’ve actively pursued for a while though as many galleries seem to have an aversion to photography these days.
Abbie: Do you have any gallery exhibits planned for the future?
Dave: Currently, I don’t have any exhibits planned, but I’m open to offers. If the right opportunity arises, I’d be excited to exhibit my work in galleries again.
Abbie: What’s the best advice you’ve received as a photographer, and what advice would you give to new photographers?
Dave: One of the most valuable pieces of advice was probably “Photograph what interests you, not what you believe others may want to see.” When it comes to offering advice to aspiring photographers I would say be wary of following trends and find your own unique voice with your work. Copying is easy, discovering your own path may be more difficult but the rewards are worth it.
Abbie: Has the internet changed the way photographers can gain recognition?
Dave: The internet has completely changed the game for photographers trying to make a name for themselves. It’s a mixed bag, really. On one hand, you have this incredible opportunity to showcase your work to a massive audience. But on the flip side, it’s a real challenge to grab their attention, even for a second. So, is it easier to get known? I’d say not really. The online world is flooded with countless photographers all shouting, “Look at me!” It’s tough for your work to stand out on its own merits. That’s why you have to dive into the world of social media and hope to catch some eyes. Sometimes it feels like you’re making a pact with the devil, but if you want any chance of getting noticed it’s a necessary evil. Back in the good old days of film, things were simpler. You could send your work to magazines, hoping they’d publish it or feature you, or enter competitions. Copyright infringement is also pretty rampant nowadays, with anyone being able to easily download images and remove watermarks. Moreover, the remarkable upscaling capabilities of AI-based software have made even low-resolution images vulnerable. Unfortunately, I’ve been forced to take legal measures to safeguard my work a few times over the past few years.
Abbie: Have you taken any courses to improve your skills?
Dave: I’ve participated in courses that included elements of photography, but most of my knowledge and skills have come from reading books, watching cinema, and learning from my own mistakes.
Abbie: How do you market your work to reach a wider audience?
Dave: Social networking plays a significant role in marketing my work. I actively use platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and recently joined Mastodon, which has become my preferred social media outlet. Additionally, I’ve joined Meta’s Threads, though I haven’t fully explored its potential yet.
Abbie: Do you use social media in your daily life?
Dave: I do, mainly to promote and share my work. I can be found at:
Abbie: Are you available for photography commissions?
Dave: Yes, I am available for commissions.
Billy Connelly – Big fan of the ‘Big Yin’. What a natural talent for making people laugh. His touring days may be behind him but at least we have his videos to look back on. Viewer discretion may be advised for this one.
Dave: I like a good movie, but they seem to be in short supply these days so I often settle for a good TV series instead. I like to travel whenever the opportunity presents itself. Oh, and I like to cook. That’s more of a recent thing as we recently bought a multi-function air-fryer (all the rage), so I’ve been having a play with that to see what I can come up with. My wife would be the first to state though that not everything that comes out of it has been a success.
Abbie: Does your significant other support your photography pursuits?
Dave: Yes, my significant other is very supportive, perhaps more than she should be!
Abbie: What does your family think about your photography?
Dave: My family is simply happy that I’m doing something I love and enjoy.
Abbie: What do you dream about when you sleep?
Dave: My dreams are usually filled with all sorts of weird and unrelated nonsense, none of which typically relates to photography.
Abbie: Where is your base of operations?
Dave: I’m based in sunny Scotland!
This is more of a bugbear. As mentioned, I frequently travel with my photography, often in my camper van. I love the freedom it offers and the opportunity to find peaceful spots to park overnight and capture the best light come morning. However, the popularity of the North Coast 500 in Scotland and the surge in staycations has led to a huge influx of motorhomes and campers in the area. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except that certain inconsiderate tourists leave behind their rubbish instead of disposing of it properly or taking it home with them. I’ve even found entire chemical toilets discarded in lay-bys! There’s just no excuse for it and this behaviour upsets locals and results in overnight camping restrictions for everyone. So I just wanted to add, please be mindful of the environment and refrain from dumping rubbish when you’re traveling in Scotland (or anywhere else for that matter). The rubbish left behind doesn’t just magically disappear, someone has to go and pick it up or it becomes a threat to health and local wildlife. Let’s preserve our freedom and be a bit more considerate so that we can all enjoy these beautiful places in the future without the need to have restrictions imposed due to the actions of a few.
(End of interview)