'it all started with a disposable camera and some catfish...'
Photo: France, 1989
My love of photography and film-making began when I was five and was given my first disposable camera on holiday in France. I remember finding some catfish in a small pond, and recall using nearly the entire roll of film on them alone. When I think back to being a boy, the only thing I can ever remember really wanting to be was a wildlife photographer. I always had my head buried in my collection of National Geographics and ‘Wildlife Fact Files’ and watched all of the old BBC natural history documentaries religiously. I spent my spare time outdoors with my dad’s Olympus OM1 as well as countless Polaroids and disposable cameras, stalking family pets and wild birds as I learned the art of photography through trial and error. The tools I used throughout this time, the OM1, its lenses and light-meter and my grandfather’s tripod from the 1950s, are still in use today and, although my subjects are usually human, I’ve never been closer to that boyhood dream.
Combining my scientific background [BSc (Hons) University of Glasgow, MSc (by research) University of Edinburgh], with my creative flair, my main area of expertise lies in the production of documentary and promotional content for scientific research expeditions. Working closely with teams of scientists in the field, my film-making and photography has taken me from megaflood gorges in Iceland and melting glaciers on the Greenland Ice Cap to research vessels around Europe. For me, documenting science is about challenging misconceptions, showing the ‘human face’ of science, and using my art to promote a deeper understanding of scientists’ work.
Whether they’re trekking across the wilderness for weeks at a time, or diving into bone-chilling waters day after day, it takes a real passion for your work to be able to see it through. Every scientist I’ve ever worked with has had this trait, and it’s something I admire hugely. It doesn’t translate into graphs and data, but it is something that can be conveyed through photographs, videos, and words.
In 2008 I moved to Krakow, Poland, to work on an archaeological excavation. It’s a long story, involving glaciers, kæstur hákarl (rotten shark) and a chance encounter on the southern coast of Iceland with a girl who later became my wife. Since 2008 I have frequently travelled back and forth to Poland for work, to learn the language and to enjoy the vibrant culture. Now, home is somewhere between Stirling and Krakow and you’ll find snippets from everyday life over on my instagram feed and on social media.