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2018 felt a bit mad. Good mad, but mad all the same. For one it’s been the first year where I’ve started to realise that this slightly crazy, speculative career gamble might actually fly in the long run. Mostly however, it’s been a year of amazing trips with even more amazing people. As such I wanted to put together an end of year review piece, partly to share an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in my work, partly to share some photos I haven’t previously published, but also partly for my own benefit to have a record of what’s been a really fun year. Now traditionally most photographers will put out an end of year review piece soon after New Years, not mid-February, however despite starting this with the best of intentions well over a month ago, other commitments gradually got in the way and the whole thing sort of grew arms and legs. Voilà, we’re now midway through February and I’ve only just found time to finish this (and it’s still arguably slightly too long). Anyway, I tend to find I really enjoy reading these sort of pieces by other photographers, usually finding I can learn a lot from them, so hopefully at least a few people might appreciate this one!

My work tends to operate on a seasonal basis, so I’m going to start from the beginning of winter 2017/18 and a day out shooting Greg Boswell and Guy Robertson climbing a hard new mixed line on Bidean nam Bian’s Church Door Buttress. As perhaps one of the strongest winter climbing partnerships in the business at the moment, it’s always a real privilege to get to photograph these two doing what they do best. The flip side of this is that I always feel I have to raise my game a bit to capture photos which do justice to their exploits.

Conditions weren’t what most would consider ideal for photography, with flat light and poor visibility through most of the day. I’ve come to learn however that these are often the best conditions for taking good winter climbing photos, as more often than not you’re photographing subjects who’re climbing on shaded north facing crags, and as such high contrast lighting isn’t your friend. Still, I can remember walking off the hill that day and not being sure whether I had anything decent at all (although this is often the case when you’re so cold you can’t hold the camera still and trying to judge whether you’ve actually taken anything good on a tiny fogged up LCD screen). Fortunately I did get a few keepers, one of which ended up winning its category in the Kendal Mountain Festival photo competition later on in the year. Below is the photo in question, plus a few others from the day which I’ve not previously shared.

Next up was a week out in the Alps working for NUCO Travel, a big player in the student snowsports holiday industry. I was shooting a mixture of some of the events they were running across a few different resorts, alongside getting some skiing shots they could use for marketing and on their social channels. The week coincided with some great early season snow conditions in the Alps, so it was all about the pow shots!

After a short break over Christmas and New Years it was back up to the Highlands, which were experiencing some fairly special snow conditions. One weekend in particular will live long in the memory for anyone who was lucky enough to be out…

In February I joined up with the talented folk at Coldhouse to spend two weeks shooting a Scottish Skiing film for Pertex. In almost an exact microcosm of a full Scottish Ski season, the vast majority of the two weeks was actually spent inside, pouring over weather forecasts, watching storm cycles develop, and trying to anticipate where we might find good snow conditions. In amongst all that I had some of the most memorable days I’ve spent on skis in Scotland and we got just about enough footage to make a short ten minute film. As director, Matt Pycroft put it “If you like skiing, or Scotland, or smiley, psyched children, or stormy weather, or strangely dedicated chartered accountants who moonlight as steep skiers, then you’ll bloody love this little movie.”

In addition to taking some photos and working as an assistant producer on the film, I also somehow ended up being persuaded to feature in it. Here’s a few photos I took during shooting and also a copy of the film in case you haven’t seen it already.

Next up,..

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