March came and the first signs of spring were emerging. Slowly, snowdrops fought to the surface against hard ground, then the land seemed to swell from the thaw and birds started to chirp in the early hours. Sunlight spilled through my windowpane, diffusing through condensed glass before casting a glow of promise into my attic room, waking me from groggy sleep. I never seemed to get enough rest during winter. The long hours of darkness merged both days and nights together. Comfort of warm blankets became increasingly desired, and leaving the cosiness felt unnatural. It wasn't until spring had started properly, bringing more hours of daylight with it, that I started to feel like the hibernation was over and I could truly stretch out with yawn, ready to start the day.
I'll never tire of the fresh air that fills my lungs whilst I watch the sun rise on cool mornings, enjoying the view with a smile lingering at the corner of my mouth. Mist lifted from the fields, casting beautiful pastel tones across my field of vision. Drives to and from home were spent watching the lambs skip and jump in the warmth of sunny days, a blissful break from the rain and fog that liked to hug the ground. Packing up my car, and finishing the warm mug of sugary tea, I headed off towards Scotland for my first adventure on home turf in 2018.
It had been long awaited, and I'd held my fingers crossed for better weather. This luck didn't seem to kick in until the last two days, which I had spent in the Cairngorms with the reindeer. Regardless of the rain, the adventure had been successful, and I’d picked up some new interests along the way. I’d stalked across mountains, tailing a wild Red Deer stag between Glencoe and Kinlochleven. I tracked him by his poo, which seemed to be a very regular occurrence for him; Scottish water must be the equivalent to Yakult on an elder’s stomach. It was such a curious hike up and down; walking, waiting and taking photos. The stag would look back every 50m or so, see me, pause until I caught up, and then moved on another 50m. Occasionally stopping for longer periods of time so I could get some shots. He was my first glimpse into their lives, and the unexpectedness of stumbling across him amongst the foliage and undergrowth added to the experience. I’d always had a fascination with deer, and the trip allowed for plenty of time to observe them as well as many other animals.
Originally, the plan was to capture the beautiful landscapes in both the Highlands and Cairngorms, but the wildlife seemed to grab my interest. I had been pre-warned by @connormollison to take some carrots and apples with me to feed the deer, as they were apparently tame enough to be hand-fed in certain areas. When I found a herd confident enough to come up to me, it didn’t take long for my stash of food to run out. They seemed to be comfortable with human presence, and didn’t mind me getting close to take some photos. The Cairngorm Mountain Reindeer were very docile, as they’ve been raised (and protected) by humans. August 2017 was my first visit to see them and I had been intrigued by them ever since.
Despite the interest in the wildlife, I did still appreciate the surroundings, and felt myself merge into the landscape with ease, wandering around valleys and along streams. A vast amount of travel is done within my own company, so I have plenty of time to think about current projects and new ideas. Time away from home to visit new (or old) places inspires my creativity; it’s important to me to spend time doing new things, otherwise I become too comfortable and routine.
Adaptability is a great human trait, and I often set myself new challenges to further growth. At the start of the year, I’d made a mental note to do more work with people, whether that was traveling or shooting with them. I’d practiced portraits not nearly as much as I had wanted to the previous year, and needed to push myself into these new zones of photography. Once I’d returned from my trip to Scotland, I planned a day out with some friends from work and a girl called Ellie, who had an interest in my photos. The weather was on our side, and we spent a delightfully sunny day up in a place called Cragside, near Rothbury.
Swinging on hammocks, talking to each other, and listening to the light breeze between trees was a simple pleasure. The sunlight soaked into our skin, warming up our souls and making us giddy. It was the first time we needed to wear sunglasses, and it was already April. Alana and Frankie were watching the frogs mating in the water, finding duck eggs and other insects. It’s a strange feeling, watching other creatures fight or fend off others for their partner, a small parody of our own lives. Days like this were easy, a place to be yourself amongst other people and share an appreciation for the view. I took some portraits of everyone, happy that I could try out new poses and techniques; sharing photos and videos to remember the day. The hours spent outside in the warmth made our eyes tired and skin soft, conversation flowed freely as I tried capture my friends honestly in my pictures.
We departed late in the day, a little over a ninety minute drive back home, where I then browsed through the 2000 photos I'd taken. I smiled as I looked through them, seeing their personality and feelings within the frame. The main reason I had such a passion for photography, was that I could relive happy memories over and over again, and recall funny conversations or late night nostalgia. However, it wasn’t the fact I could do that for myself. Instead, it was that I could do that for other people too. A way to physically view or hold treasured memories and not let them slip away.
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