Although it has been a number of years since Document Scotland’s Colin McPherson produced the main body of work in his Catching the Tide series, the photographs of his long-term project documenting the lives of Scotland’s remaining salmon net fishermen continue to be published.
A new book entitled The Salmon Fishers – a history of the Scottish coastal salmon fisheries by Iain A. Robertson features 14 monochrome images taken from the series. The book is a detailed summary of the history of the ancient tradition of using nets to catch salmon and sea trout for the commercial market and recalls the many twists and turns the industry has had to negotiate to survive into the 21st century. It talks of the lives of the fishermen but also of the bureaucracy and parliamentary strictures which have reduced a once-thriving industry to near-invisibility in many parts of the country.
Colin’s work with the fishermen began in the mid-1990s when the fisheries were still principally owned and managed by great companies which had exploited the salmon for over a century. Firms such as Joseph Johnston & Sons owned the leases to many profitable netting stations and employed hundreds of men. With dwindling fish stocks, the flooding of the market by cheaply-produced farmed salmon and an aggressive buy-out campaign by angling interests, the days of salmon netting seemed numbered. It was this which spurred Colin on to making as complete a record as possible of salmon netting which has lead to many years travelling and photographing the fishermen and their stations from the Solway in the south to the north west tip of Scotland in Sutherland. Companies such as Johnstons are long gone, but the record of their fisheries is in part preserved by Colin’s work.
If Santa brings you a fist full of book tokens at Christmas, what better way to invest them than by ordering a copy of The Salmon Fishers and reading up on a previously ignored part of Scotland’s rural history and tradition?
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‘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.
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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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We all get 15 minutes of fame, so the story goes. To stretch the Warholian reference, in 2005 I got the best part of half-an-hour starring on prime time television. Not strictly true, I admit. It was my photography and the subject of my work which captured the attention of the nation. I was merely a narrator. A walk-on part in my own story. I was reminded of this episode in my career as the short film was first broadcast exactly seven years ago today and featured my work with Scotland’s last salmon net fishermen, a project which had already been ongoing for around a decade.
Entitled ‘Catching the Tide’ and commissioned by Scottish Television and Grampian Television, it allowed me to introduce my work and two of the pivotal figures in the salmon netting community with whom I had formed a strong bond and collaborated with over the years. The film was a family affair: directed by my sister Katrina McPherson and edited by her husband Simon Fildes. Filmed beautifully by cameraman Neville Kidd, the documentary managed to capture the ever-changing weather, dramatic scenery and the perseverance and effort required by the fishermen. Having worked with the whole crew and production team previously as a stills photographer on a number of projects, I felt completely at ease during the filming, even managing to keep seasickness at bay during a stormy afternoon at the bag nets off Auchmithie.
I’ve no idea what the viewing figures were like, but I did get a lot of feedback about the film and the photography. Most was positive; some was negative; a couple of letters were threatening. I knew I was tackling a very sensitive story with the film. The salmon netsmen have many enemies, particularly within the powerful angling fraternity. Those critics didn’t like the slant of the content. My view was that my work was ventilating a particular point-of-view. Anyone can disagree with or criticise that perspective. That is their right. I felt strongly that it was story which had to be told.
The film went on to be repeated on terrestrial television and has been shown subsequently at a number of film festivals across the world, including the Tehran Film Festival, which threw up the tantilising prospect of my words being dubbed into Persian!
For me, it was an interesting way to diversify the direction of a project which was very close to my heart and which I had been associated with for many years. It showed just how a project can change direction and mutate during its lifetime. And it gave me my 24 minutes of fame.
To view the whole film on the internet, or to buy a DVD copy, please visit: http://www.left-luggage.co.uk/catchingthetide.com/Movie.html
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