The Common Riding

“I’m are very pleased to announce that today Cafe Royal Books, run and published by Craig Atkinson, have published a little limited edition (of 150) ‘zine book of my Common Riding photographs. All the images were shot in 2000, in the Scottish Borders, and 14 of them form the 28page black and white ‘zine.

All the ‘zines are numbered and if you’d like to buy one they can be found here on Cafe Royal Books website and are on sale at £5.00 each, plus package and posting. The ‘zine is published in an edition of 150, but not all of those will go on sale.

Other photographers published by Craig as part of the same series are Homer Sykes, David Levenson, Craig Atkinson, Peter Dench, John Claridge and more. Many great photographers whom I admire, and much great photography. I’m very pleased and excited to have my work alongside the work of them in the series, and I’m grateful to Craig at Cafe Royal Books for his interest in my work and bringing it to a bigger audience. I hope you can take a look.” – Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert


Curds and Creams Repast, in St. Leonard’s Hut, Hawick. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Cafe Royal Books 2013, all rights reserved.


Catching packets of snuff, at dawn, Hawick. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Cafe Royal Books 2013, all rights reserved.


‘Crying the Langholm fair’, Langholm. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Cafe Royal Books 2013, all rights reserved.

See the whole set of Scottish Common Riding photographs, from 2000, in Hawick, Langholm and Selkirk, here.


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The Gorbals

The Gorbals, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.


Over here at Document Scotland we were recently excited to find out that Craig Atkinson, under his Cafe Royal Books publishing name, was going to be publishing a book of photographs from the Gorbals area of Glasgow, by renowned advertising and portrait photographer John Claridge. Our curiosity was piqued, we hadn’t known that John Claridge had done such photography, his premenence as an advertising photographer, for which he has been widely awarded within the industry, goes before him. But who knew that he’d done black and white in Glasgow’s Gorbals? We had to find out more, and very nicely and graciously Cafe Royal Books have allowed us to preview their new ‘zine, and John Claridge took some time out from his schedule to answer a few questions for us.

The Gorbals, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.

The Gorbals, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.


Document Scotland– Sir, you’ve had an extensive career, and to the younger viewer editorial or documentary work is perhaps not what first springs to mind when we think of your own work, we think more of advertising, and portraiture, so how does the Gorbals work fit into your career? Did you shoot a lot of editorial reportage?
John Claridge– I’ve always shot documentary and editorial work. When I was on an advertising assignment I would always find time and take time out to shoot my personal work. When shooting an advertising campaign I guess you’re looking for and solving solutions based on a specific brief. With my personal work, I’m exploring my own psyche and opinion about the world.

The Gorbals, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.


The Gorbals, Glasgow. © John Claridge 1965-2013, all rights reserved.


DS– When was the Gorbals work shot,  were you there on assignment, or for personal work? You’re from London’s East End,  we wondered did you feel an affiliation to the Gorbals area and the people? You seem to have had access to homes, how receptive were the people to being photographed?
JC– The Gorbals pictures were shot in 1965 over a two-day period for a charity to bring awareness of the dire circumstances people were living in. The majority of these pictures have never been published before. Only one or two have ever been seen. Being from London’s East End I certainly felt an affinity. The people in the Gorbals seemed to have a similar resilience, generosity and sense of humour despite their terrible circumstances and living conditions. I would never want to change my background or where I came from. Times were hard, but in a strange way living was easy. Not one day went by without laughing at something. Sharing and spending time with people who have real soul.


Scottish Landscapes, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.


Scottish Landscapes, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.


DS– And the Scottish Landscapes work, how did that come about? Is there a particular part of Scotland which drew you in, or draws you back?
JC– I’ve been shooting Scottish landscapes for a number of years. I adore Scotland. I think the Highlands are one of the most beautiful places in the world. For me the Highlands have so much beauty, history, mystery and tragedy. It’s always amused me with all this magic, that some advertising campaigns depict it with happy families, loads a sun, and ice cream!

H. V. Morton puts it into perspective when he wrote: “The heathery moors slope down to a distant valley. The sun is setting. The sky above the Lammermuirs is red and troubled. The wind drops. Faint white serpents of mist twist above the greenwood, outlining the course of stream and river. It is a study in blue. In the foreground, like a promise of the Highlands, and as notable as a ship at sea”.


Scottish Landscapes, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.


Scottish Landscapes. © John Claridge 2013, all rights reserved.


DS– You’ve had a huge career, seen the world, and been awarded many times, what draws you to printing your work in small, limited edition ‘zines nowadays? What is the attraction for you?
JC– I think CRBs books have an honesty and rawness, which sadly is lacking in many publications today. Also they seem to be acquiring cult status. And, of course, a real pleasure to work with.

DS– What are you working on at present and what can we look forward to next?
JC– I’ve just finished a series of b&w portraits of ex-boxers and am now working on some older work about Britain’s industrial past.

DS– Thank you John, and Cafe Royal Books, for allowing us to show your work and taking the time to answer a few questions. Best wishes to you.

The website of photographer John Claridge is here, and Cafe Royal Books ordering page is here. Please feel free to show your appreciation for the work to Cafe Royal Books on Twitter.

Right, we’re off to buy John’s books…



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‘Six Percent’

Six Percent. ©Graham Miller 2013, all rights reserved.


Scottish-based photographer Graham Miller has been photographing families with a person with Down’s Syndrome, capturing their intimate moments and everyday family life. The resulting work is on show at Summerhall Gallery, Edinburgh, from 22nd March – 22nd May 2013. The exhibition photographs are accompanied by audio interviews and quotes with the families featured.

The work is also available as a book, called ‘Six Percent Down’s Syndrome – My Photographs, Their Stories‘, made in conjunction with Down’s Syndrome Scotland. Profits from the first 500 copies will go to Down’s Syndrome Scotland.


Cameron and parents. ©Graham Miller, 2013, all rights reserved.


The below text comes from the advance information for the book, supplied by Graham Miller:

‘I hope it will be an inspiration to people who might find themselves in what they think is an impossible situation’ – Ross Irvin (Jamie’s dad)

‘We know that new parents want to see real families just getting on with life after having a baby with Down’s Syndrome’ – Pandora Summerfield, CEO, Downs Syndrome Scotland.

The book’s title, Six Percent, is taken directly from statistics presented by the UK Cytogenetics register which show that of all the pregnancies diagnosed as being Down Syndrome, 6% result in a live birth, 91% are terminated and a further 3% of babies are miscarried, or die at birth.

This book is unusual in that it presents striking black and white photographs with captions derived from interviews, with a number of affected families by one photographer. A number of books already exist which show a very personal view, within one family, while the aim of this book is to show a diverse and balanced perspective across a number of family groups from the viewpoint of someone who knows nothing about the condition. This then reflects the
experience of many families who are introduced to Down’s Syndrome for the first time when they are told that their child has the condition.

Likely to be of interest to the photographic book community, expectant and new parents of children with Down’s Syndrome, medical professionals and the public at large. Six Percent aims to present real images and quotes from families describing their experiences. This includes very personal accounts of thinking around the time of diagnosis and then birth where families describe how they felt and how their views have developed. Some of the captions are shocking while others will prove uplifting.

Many families describe a feeling of shock, a period of adjustment and then acceptance. Those featured have all been determined to share their experiences, so that others can learn from them.

Through Six Percent, the photographer and interviewer, Graham Miller, does not seek to take a position as to whether the decision to terminate a pregnancy is justified or not. Instead he seeks to present ‘What I saw and heard – no more, no less’. On that basis, it is to be hoped that this book then provides a welcome additional source of information alongside that already available in the public domain which often focuses more on the medical ramifications rather than day to day life.

Graham admits that through this project, in common with his other documentary photography work, he seeks to address the underlying theme of the importance of individuality. ‘When I take photographs of someone affected by disability I see their condition as just one more aspect of them which goes towards creating the whole person. Small, tall, black hair, no hair, young, old and indeed having Down’s Syndrome are our ‘specifications’ and its society that tries to put us in a box. I pursue ‘humanity without constraint’ and it is my passion that we all do the same one day’.

Six Percent will be published on UN World Down Syndrome day March 21st 2013 alongside a touring exhibition.

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The Burry Man

Renowned London-based editorial and reportage photographer David Levenson has had a small zine published via Cafe Royal Books, showcasing his photographs of the Burry Man tradition in South Queensferry, Scotland. We thought it a great little set of images, and nice to see archive work finding new uses. We asked David via email if he’d be so kind as to let us showcase the work and talk us through it, and to our great pleasure, he agreed…


The Burry Man by David Levenson, 2013
16 pages, 14cm x 20cm, b/w digital
Numbered edition of 100


Document Scotland- David, Thank you for letting us showcase your work on the Burry Man of South Queensferry. Can you tell us a little about the background to the custom, and how you first heard about it or became interested to photograph it ?

David Levenson- The Burry Man is the main figure in an annual ritual that takes place in South Queensferry, near Edinburgh every August. A local man is covered from head to foot in thistle burrs. He is paraded through the town at a snails pace supported by two assistants. He is in the costume for nearly nine hours, often in sweltering heat, and can easily lose nearly a stone in weight. Able only to drink through a straw, he is sustained by a few wee drams, and lots of water. I shot it back in 1997 when the Burry Man was Alan Reid, who did it for 25 years, until 1999.

I had seen Homer Sykes classic book “Once A Year” shot in the 1970’s, and was fascinated by the quirky rituals that he had photographed. I was encouraged to shoot my own version of it by Christopher Angeloglou, my picture editor at Colorific!, my agency at the time. Covering some of these events is almost a rite of passage for documentary photographers in the UK. Before Homer, Patrick Ward and Tony Ray Jones had captured elements of it, and before that many other press photographers over the years. I could see from photos of the event that it was one I had to cover. It was however the only one in the story that I shot in Scotland.

‘Burry Man’, Scotland. ©David Levenson 1997, all rights reserved.


DS- How does photographing in Scotland, and at an event like this, fit within your overall photographic practice and interests?

DL- My favourite type of work has always been social documentary, and the recording of events for future posterity. So this project fell naturally into that classification. I have always found Scottish people to be a particularly friendly bunch, and have always enjoyed working up here. It was a very pleasurable day spent following the Burry Man and his team around.

I have always been aware of the historical value of documentary photography, but with hindsight, I wish that I had shot a bit looser in the 1970’s and 80’s. Elements that at the time I had cropped out when shooting, are the things that now give the pictures a historical context. It is very difficult, if not impossible to imagine what around us will change or disappear in years to come. Few photographers have that vision to capture the banality of daily life. Martin Parr is one of the few. Even now just 16 years later, the fashions of those around the Burry Man in the photos, look dated.

When I first left school I worked in a Fleet Street photo agency Fox Photos, and one of my jobs was filing prints in the archive. There were the most fantastic press and feature pictures shot from the 1920’s through to the 1970’s and I learnt so much by studying them. Their value was not just as good photography, but as a historical record of their time and the people who lived then.

You walk through a graveyard, and it’s just unknown names on headstones, but they were all people with fascinating stories to tell once. By documenting their existence in pictures we let them live on. Who goes to visit the grave of their great grandparents? They only exist to us when we have photos to remember them by. Documentary photography is a terribly important thing, but these days so many stupid barriers are put up to try and prevent us taking pictures.

DS- I see from your website that you’ve shot at a few such quirky British customs or festivals, why do you choose to photograph at such events, such customs? Do you feel these customs are dying out, or not? Does the photographing of them help keep them alive do you believe?

DL- I shot events like the Burry Man all around the UK, to build up a quirky story on ancient customs and rituals. At the end I edited the set down to a meaningful one, and went to the Sunday Times magazine with it. They were my first choice to use it and fortunately for me they liked it, and ran it over 10 pages.

I think that most of these events could still be around in a hundred years time – though having said that, I have heard that one, the Britannia Coconut Dancers in Lancashire, is struggling to find new members to take part. That is a tragedy because it is these regional rituals, that help define an area. All of them rely on active participation of the local community to survive.

‘Burry Man’, Scotland. ©David Levenson 1997, all rights reserved.


DS- What draws you to documentary work, say such as your project on the Bank of England?

DL- The thing I love about being a photographer is that it gets you into places that you would normally never go, and enables you to meet people that you would never otherwise know. For example the Bank of England story – they had not let a photographer through the door for a hundred years, when I went in. By chance, I had got talking to the head of their PR on a job, and discovered it was the Banks 300th anniversary coming up. I managed after a lot of effort to talk them into letting me come in and do a behind the scenes reportage. If it wasn’t for the birthday angle, it would not have happened. I got access everywhere, even the gold vaults, deep underground. In fact I went into the gold vaults twice because I cocked up the first shoot! Working on colour film in those days, I hadn’t allowed for the strength of the fluorescent tube lighting, and everything had a green cast…fortunately they let me back down to reshoot it.

DS- How do you disseminate your work, such as that of the Burry Man, and do you find an audience for it?

DL- Apart from its initial publication in the Sunday Times magazine, the images from the story have not been used a great deal since. That is why I was so pleased when Craig Atkinson from Cafe Royal Books, asked to publish the story as a small ‘zine. Having an archive of work, it is nice to be able to re-visit it years later, and have it published in ways that were not possible even a few years ago.

‘Burry Man’, Scotland. ©David Levenson 1997, all rights reserved.


DS- Congratulations on your publication of the Burry Man as a Cafe Royal booklet. What appealed to you about publishing it in an edition of 100, and as such a ‘zine ?

DL- I discovered Craig Atkinson of Cafe Royal Books, after he had published some books by John Claridge, that I had bought from him. Claridge is a top advertising photographer, but grew up in the 60’s in the East End of London. As a young man he had taken the most wonderful black and white documentary images of the area where he lived and the people that he knew. He has been re-discovered  and seen by a new audience via the wonderful blog.

Cafe Royal Books only do limited print runs of a hundred copies. The ‘zine market is a new one to me, but one that has been enabled by digital printing. It seems a great way to have a small story published relatively cheaply. Like you with your Document Scotland paper, there are so many new avenues available to us now to show our work. It is easy to look back on the golden age of Colour Supplements, but too easy to forget all the fantastic stories that never got published!

DS- Where can people buy your very reasonably priced zine ?

DL- From

DS- Many thanks David for graciously letting us showcase the pics, and hear your words. 


David Levenson (UK) began his career at Fleet Street press agency Fox Photos. He shot the Iranian Embassy siege, the Brixton riots and the early days of Lady Diana. Throughout the 1980s Levenson photographed Charles and Diana on Royal Tours around the world, visiting over 50 countries and producing 16 illustrated books on their travels, two of which made the Sunday Times Best Seller list.
David Levenson is the only photographer ever granted full behind the scenes access into the Bank of England, for a story that ran in the Daily Telegraph magazine.

Click here to see David Levenson’s photography website, or send him a note at David Levenson on Twitter telling him much you enjoy his work. We did.

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Gardner’s ‘Sketch Book’

Born in 1821, Alexander Gardner was a Paisley boy, before setting off in 1851 for London where he met American photographer Matthew Brady. In 1856 he left Britain by ship for American where he reunited with Brady and joined his studio. Subsequently Gardner went on to become one of the first, and most famous war photographers, documenting the aftermaths of the battles of Gettyburg, Petersburg and Fredericksburg.  Gardner also photographed Abraham Lincoln and the execution of the conspirators to the Lincoln’s assassination. 

The following little film, comes via Hulton Getty archive, and takes a look at Gardener’s ‘Sketch Book of the American Civil War’. Document Scotland has blogged previously about the iPad app of Gardner’s ‘Sketch Book of the American Civil War’.

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Today here on Document Scotland we post a portfolio of Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’ series, work examining the lives of former Iraqi translators working for the British Governement and army in Iraq. We caught up with Sarah and she kindly agreed to answer some questions about her project via email:

DS- What made you take on this project, how did it come about ?

SF- I was interested in documenting the lives of people from the Middle East who have settled in Glasgow. I spent a few months researching and trying to make contacts, with limited success. As it turned out, the Scottish Middle Eastern Council were receptive to my ideas and helped put me in touch with three men who had worked with the British forces and government in Iraq, and who were now settled in Glasgow under the Locally Engaged Staff Assistance Scheme. My project then evolved into a portrait of these three families and their new lives in the UK.

DS- How difficult was it to gain the access to the people you’ve photographed, and what was their reaction to your request to show a little of their lives ?

SF- Once I had built up a rapport with SMEC, they passed on the email addresses of the three men, who had agreed to meet with me to discuss the project. I then met with the families individually to present my ideas and discuss how we might tell their stories without revealing their identities. All three men and their families were incredibly accommodating and enthusiastic about the project. I see ‘Middlemen’ as a collaborative project between myself and the three families: the images were born out of an ongoing discussion about the best way to present the stories while still preserving the subjects’ anonymity. One of the men is a calligrapher and helped me with the beautiful cover for my book, while another translated my interviews into Arabic for inclusion in the book. So I think it was also a way for them to tell their stories, and I hope that taking part in the project was useful in helping them to process their experiences.

Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’ book.


Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’ book.


DS- Was it difficult to build their trust, how did you go about this ?

SF- I had done a lot of research into Iraq’s history and customs beforehand: i think it’s really important to have a solid understanding of your subject, especially if your project involves a culture that you are unfamiliar with. I began by explaining why I wanted to do this project and what it would entail, as well as setting boundaries with my subjects so that I was completely certain of what I could and couldn’t photograph.  I then interviewed my subjects to gain background knowledge: I did this by asking general questions which then often led to specific recollections. My attitude to interviews is pretty straightforward: I research, prepare well, and turn up on time! I think most people will give you the time of day, if you show that you respect their time and attention.

DS- How long have you been working on the series, it is finished, or do you envisage adding to the work ?

SF- ‘Middlemen’ took about 9 months to complete – I see it as a finished body of work, although I am still in contact with my subjects and would consider revisiting the project in the future. I feel that it’s a very intimate body of work that encapsulates a moment in time: three families starting their new lives in an unfamiliar country. I don’t know if it needs to be added to.

DS- has the work been exhibited or published, or are there future plans for it to be shown or published ?

SF- The work was shown in the Scottish Parliament in 2011, and the Lighthouse, Glasgow and V&A London in 2012.

Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’


Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’ book.


DS- Many thanks Sarah, best of luck with your work, and thanks for sharing it here with us.
See further work photographic work by Sarah Amy Fishlock, and send her a note on Twitter @SarahFishlock.



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Alexander Gardner’s iPad app.

Alexander Gardner, the 19th century Scottish photographer, is the last person you expect to find late on a Thursday evening hanging out on Twitter, but indeed to my amusement and surprise I somehow stumbled into his Twitter feed.

Alexander Gardner was, or is (since he is still tweeting and nice to see he’s taken to social media) regarded as the first photojournalist. Born in Paisley, Scotland, on October 17th 1821, Gardner moved to America in 1856, where he subsequently became photographer of the Army of the Potomac, and the man who documented the American Civil War, bringing back for viewing for the first time ever photographs of war dead. He was also the photographer who shot portraits of Abraham Lincoln and also images of the execution of the conspirators to Lincoln’s assassination.

Surely Gardner would have something interesting to say in 140 Twitter characters ? So I took a look, read his feed, and behold, I find that not only did Gardner have a twitter feed but he also has an iPad app for sale. Not one to shy away from modern technology he has resurrected his famous and scarce Photographic Sketch Book of The War into an app, available now on iTunes.

This was too good to be true, so I sent him a message. How could I resist chatting with a Scottish documentary photographer of his stature ? And kindly, Alexander has graciously let Document Scotland reproduce below the text describing his app and showcasing his most famous work, and has also shared with us a few screen grabs of it.

Alexander Gardner, we thank you.


About Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War iPad app.

Antietam. Manassas. Gettysburg. These are battles that are forever etched in America’s memories. The man who captured some of the most horrific images during the War Between the States was Alexander Gardner, an intrepid Scotsman, a jeweler’s apprentice of Calvinist upbringing, a newspaper publisher, entrepreneur and photographer.

Gardner’s historically significant compilation of images, his Photographic Sketch Book of the War, is one of the most acclaimed photographic books ever published, and yet little known. Published in 1866 in two stunning volumes and with an original price tag of $150, only 200 copies were ever printed, with fewer than 14 remaining intact to this day. A complete set of the works sold at Christie’s in 2009 for $92,500, beating the $40,000 – $60,000 pre-auction estimate.

As the nation remembers the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Conflict, our goal is to bring this work of art and these images back to life and to make it widely available to those around the country, as well as around the world, who share our love of photography as well as the history of this great country.



This app is a faithful re-publication of Gardner’s 1866 masterpiece where you can enjoy:

· Alexander Gardner’s original introduction from 1866.
· Beautifully illustrated title page by renowned Civil War artist Alfred R. Waud.
· 100 Civil War images with accompanying captions written by Alexander Gardner between 1865-66, shortly after the cessation of hostilities.
· Biographies of photographer Alexander Gardner as well as acclaimed illustrator, Alfred R. Waud.
· Information on how photographers operated in the field during the early days of battlefield photography.
· Analysis of a number of Civil War photographs explaining how the photographers staged them in an effort to heighten the dramatic effect of the images, which captured the essence of the War.



* Disclaimer – This app is a faithful reproduction of an original version of this 1866 manuscript. We have left all spelling mistakes and/or other “inaccuracies” as is in order to provide a true accounting of this critically acclaimed tome. Also of note, the spelling of various words and locations has changed over the years as well, these have been left true to the 1866 copy as well.

If you’d like to see, and purchase, the full Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War app then you can find it here on iTunes.

Alexander Gardner’s Twitter stream is here, and also, like any good photographer these days, he has his own Alexander Gardner Facebook page.



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Paul Strand’s Hebrides: subtle, sensitive with a dash of Marxist steel

Paul Strand‘s book of Hebridean photographs, ‘Tir a’Mhurian‘, was published fifty years ago this month. In The Guardian’s Scottish Blog Fraser MacDonald, of Edinburgh university, reviews it’s relevance and the background to Strand’s project. By kind permission of Fraser MacDonald, and The Guardian we republish his article here.

Paul Strand and Basil Davidson’s ‘Tir a’Mhurain’, MacGibbon & Kee Limited, 1962.


Paul Strand’s Hebrides: subtle, sensitive with a dash of Marxist steel

There are more than a few odd things about Paul Strand’s book of Hebridean photographs Tir a’Mhurain which was first published 50 years ago this month.

Consider, for instance, this remarkable coincidence: a notable Marxist photographer, an exile from McCathyite America with the FBI on his trail, arrived in South Uist within weeks of a secret survey of the island as a possible testing range for America’s new nuclear missile.

What about Strand’s blind insistence, at the height of the cold war, that his book only be printed in Leipzig, East Germany? He cited technical rather than political reasons, favouring a special print process that was only available on the other side of the iron curtain.

Another oddity: when looking for an author to write the accompanying text to Tir a’Mhurain (Gaelic for Land of the Bendy Grass), he rejected many eminent Scottish writers (Hamish Henderson, Neil M. Gunn and Sir Compton Mackenzie) in favour of an English journalist. Basil Davidson (who died in 2010) ended up writing a pitch perfect commentary but until this commission he had never even been to the Hebrides.

Tir a’Mhurain is as strange a book as all of this might suggest.

Strange too is that this is a work of high Modernism with an affinity for folk culture. It embodies a steely Marxist aesthetic but remains subtle and sensitive to the individual islander. And though now neglected, it is surely one of the most important moments in the portraiture of Scotland.

Strand certainly thought so. Not given to self doubt, he ranked himself third in the pantheon of world photographers, after Scotland’s David Octavius Hill and the Frenchman Eugène Atget.

This sort of egotism is not particularly attractive but nor is it entirely wide of the mark; within the history of Scotland’s photography, only Hill has a prior claim to significance.

Yet even now Paul Strand does not get the recognition he deserves, at least not on this side of the Atlantic. Imagine if Strand’s colleague Ansel Adams had shot a Scottish Highland portfolio? The emporiums of Scottishness on the Royal Mile would be brimming over with the supersized prints and calendars.

Strand’s work is rather less accessible. It was always expensive for one thing – ostensibly because of his belief in the integrity of the photographic print as an original artwork. He berated Adams for allowing his work to be reproduced in poster form though it was precisely this strategy that sealed Adams’ reputation as America’s pre-eminent landscape photographer.

Strand’s landscapes make no bid for Adams’ sublime grandeur. They have a depth that is less yielding to a casual glance; he makes us work to think about the relations between and within images – the ties of labour that bind Hebrideans to the landscapes of their making.

Tir a’Mhurain was in many ways a political project in the guise of an ethnographic one. He pictured locally celebrated tradition bearers – the bards and storytellers – and he did so straight; no tricks.

As Davidson observed, “We are looking at subjects not objects; but these same subjects are also looking back at us, again at us as subjects, with the same intense equality of interest.”

Outraged by what he saw as an aggressive Nato militarism, Strand originally conceived of Tir a’Mhurain as, in part, a protest against the development of the rocket range in South Uist.

But by the time the book was finished, the rocket range was already a done deal and the Corporal missile – the world’s first nuclear missile – was soaring high over the Atlantic towards St Kilda.

With bleak timing, the book was published just weeks before the Cuban missile crisis when the world came closest to the scenario of “mutually assured destruction”. It was in these dark days of the cold war that Strand held out his vision of Hebridean community as an inspiration. But his own native land was having none of it.

The United States banned the book unless imported copies bore an obvious stamp ‘Printed in Germany, USSR occupied’ – a stipulation to which they knew Strand would never consent.

As a committed communist, Strand was often at odds with the political climate. That history didn’t exactly go Strand’s way is evident by the fact that, long after the end of the cold war, the South Uist rocket range is still open for business – though as a privatized industry now run by defence corporations.

But still the photos remain – evocative portraits of Scottish lives and landscapes under the shadow of the bomb.

– Fraser MacDonald.

Follow Fraser MacDonald on Twitter, and on his blog Modern Lives, Modern Landscape.

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‘Going To The Hill’

‘Going To The Hill, Life on the Scottish Sporting Estates’ by Glyn Satterley.

Scottish photographer Glyn Satterley has a new book, ‘Going To The Hill, Life On The Scottish Sporting Estates’, out tomorrow. Here at Document Scotland we eagerly look forward to seeing it.

The publisher describes Glyn’s new book as “a celebration of Scotland’s rich sporting heritage by internationally acclaimed photographer Glyn Satterley. This is the sequel to The Highland Game and covers the whole of Scotland. The photographs capture the unique atmosphere of the sporting lodge, whether traditional or ultra hi-tech, keepering of all types, owners, stalking, fishing, dog trials, clothing, gunsmiths, wildlife painters and sculptors.”

Glyn Satterley is an award-winning photographer whose work has been exhibited throughout Britain – from The Photographers’ Gallery in London to the Royal Museum in Edinburgh. He has spent the best part of 30 years recording life on Scottish estates and has produced nine books, mainly on hunting, shooting and fishing, including two highly acclaimed titles – the Scottish Sporting Estate and The Highland Game (Swan Hill), which was accompanied by a major exhibition of estate life. He lives near Edinburgh and works freelance for numerous British and International magazines.

[issuu width=420 height=229 embedBackground=%23000000 backgroundColor=%23222222 documentId=120723103735-b3c3923203f64bc886a9bead9dfbb2f6 name=goingtothehill username=quillerpublishing tag=country%20books unit=px v=2]

Or if the above embed does not work, then you can preview a few spreads from Glyn Satterley’s ‘Going To The Hill’ book here.

We hope very soon to bring you a longer article or interview with Glyn, and to showcase some of his work.


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‘By The Glow Of The Jukebox’

In 1955 American photographer Robert Frank received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation grant  to travel across the United States and photograph all strata of its society. He took his family along with him for part of his series of road trips over the next two years, during which time he took 28,000 shots. Only 83 of those images were finally selected by him for publication in his seminal documentary book ‘The Americans’.

Now, more than half a century after Frank took his road trips, my good friend and colleague, American photographer Jason Eskenazi, has compiled a list of photographer’s favourite images chosen from Frank’s ‘The Americans’. It was whilst working as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, that Jason began to ask photographers he knew who were visiting the ‘The Americans: Looking In’ exhibition, about Robert Frank’s book, what their favorite image from the book was and why. In the 2 years since he quit his guard job, as he himself got back out on the road again to shoot, he compiled those answers into a book format. The resulting list of notes and thoughts, of 276 photographers from around the world, including one by myself, has now been self-published as a book entitled ‘By The Glow Of The Jukebox: The Americans List’.

‘By The Glow Of  The Jukebox’.


With the thoughts on Frank’s photos by some of the great photographers of our times, James Nachtwey, Alex Webb, Larry Fink, Josef Koudelka, Maggie Steber, Carl De Keyser and a host of others, the book gives a fascinating insight into how we read photos, what we take from them and what, as photographers, we look for.

For my entry, my favourite image, I chose the last image in Frank’s book, entitled ‘U.S. 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas’. But I shan’t tell you why I chose it, for that you have to buy the book, which is available here: Jason Eskenazi’s ‘By The Glow Of The Jukebox: The Americans List’.

And below we have the man himself, photographer Robert Frank, reading the book of thoughts on his work which was presented to him by Jason Eskenazi. Image courtesy of Clark Winter and Jason Eskenazi.

–  Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Photographer Robert Frank reading ‘By The Glow Of The Jukebox’ by Jason Eskenazi. Photo courtesy of ©Clark Winter 2012, all rights reserved.



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Crossing Paths

Scottish photographer Niall McDiarmid was recently awarded a prize for portraiture in the International Photography Awards for his current Crossing Paths portraiture project,  an ongoing project which stands as a social document of the looks and styles of people on the streets of the UK at present. Niall kindly agreed to answer a few emailed questions from Document Scotland about the background to his project, and to share with us some of the images from the series which you can see in the Niall McDiarmid Crossing Paths photographic portfolio.

Platform 5, York Railway Station. ©Niall McDiarmid 2012, all rights reserved.


Niall, when did the project begin?

I had been working on a similar smaller project near to where I live in South London for seven or eight years before this, focussing on interesting characters who I met in my everyday life.

So, in essence, Crossing Paths has been a few years in the making. However the main project really got going properly in early 2011 when I branched out to cover the whole of London, then the across the South East of England shortly after and then later in the year, the whole of the UK.

Is the project self-initiated, or a great commission ?

Yes, it’s a personal project – my own record of characters I’ve met throughout the UK in these past two years.

Where and why do you go to the particular towns, how do you choose the locations? What are the logistics of traveling around?

I stop at towns where I happen to be for commissions as a commercial photographer, places where I’m on holiday with my family or occasionally I just take short trips out.

You were asking your Facebook readers and Twitter users about their favourite towns, what was the aim of that ?

Having visited so many towns across the country this past year, I was interested to know if people had favourite towns and what their relationships with those towns was. A pattern seemed to emerge whereby those of us who now live in the large conurbations still have huge fondness for the smaller towns where they either grew up or in many cases went to college or university.

How does your use of social media play into the project?

Social media users, particularly those on Twitter, are extremely supportive of other liked-minded people. Building a core audience which can get involved in a project from the beginning is a great way of generating support and driving a body of work on. Starting a large project such as this as an individual with no formal or financial backing can be extremely daunting and hard to pull off. So the goodwill and encouragement of peers and friends is a huge benefit. In many ways I feel those who have joined in and spread the word about Crossing Paths are part of the story too.

However, other than generating support, I haven’t used social media to shape the narrative or direction of the project.

The images are very clean, and it seems hard to place how’ve they been shot. Are they on film or digital ?

They are all shot on medium format film.

How much are you shooting per person?

I generally only take two or three shots maximum per person.

A lot of the locations really seem to fit the clothes the people are wearing, are you moving the sitters to pre-chosen locations, or shooting where you find them?

No I just photograph people somewhere very close to where I first say hello.

What are your feelings on the fashions you see people wearing at present? Is it hard to find uniqueness?  How much do the styles and looks change as you cross the country?

I don’t really have a particular interest in fashion or style. However uniqueness in peoples’ appearance is important to me. British people are not afraid to stick out from the crowd and many positively enjoy being different. One of this country’s great strengths is our ability to be individuals and be proud of that. It is also a sign of our nation’s tolerance that in most cases no matter what your age, sex, ethnicity or social background you can be as you wish, wear what you like and walk down any high street without feeling alienated.

As to finding unique people, I suppose we are all unique – it’s just some people are more unique than others and I seem to have a knack of finding of them.

How are you choosing people in the street, what are you looking for? Is there a type of person you look for?

I can’t say how I choose a particular person because I don’t know. They are all just people who walk by me, cross my path and catch my eye. However, looking through the project as a whole, one common theme that seems to connect all the individuals is a certain charisma and confidence.

How much do you interact with the people, a few minutes, or are you also interviewing them/chatting away?

Being a photographer is a great excuse to meet and find out about great people. Through my teens and into my 20s I was a very shy person. However I gradually grew out of that and now there is nothing I enjoy more than stopping and chatting to whoever I meet – shooting the breeze as they in the US. Some people I speak to for quite a while, others just a few seconds. However I don’t interview them. This is solely a visual project.

What is the outcome of Crossing Paths so far, has the project been exhibited or published?

I hope to exhibit the pictures at different locations across the UK. I would also like to spend more time taking portraits in areas near to any exhibitions I can organise. Publishing is another possibility but I haven’t got any plans at this stage.

How do you view the work, is it documentary? Or portraiture?

I hope the project stands as a social document about people on the streets of the UK at this time.

Many thanks to Niall for sharing the work.

To see more of Niall’s work-  Niall McDiarmid’s photography website, Crossing Paths website, Crossing Paths Facebook page, and Niall McDiarmid on Twitter.


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