Inside this issue
Interview with Andrew and Grant Bulloch
I am a 16 year old photographer from Edinburgh. Although I’m still at school, I was privileged to win the Take-A-View UK Young Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2017 and then the Youth "Urban View" category in 2018. I am also the current Junior Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2017 (as well as 2016!) and was runner up in the Scottish Junior Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016 and 2017. It’s been a whirlwind few years for me, but I just enjoy getting out into the countryside or even around the city with my camera.
Grant had always been interested in the arts. An architect by profession, he had concentrated on his career for over 20 years and had little time for serious photography. However spending time with Andrew meant going on trips to the Scottish Highlands, and a new found urge to take it seriously.
Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.
Hello and welcome to On Landscape, I’m sitting outside in the sun with Andrew and Grant Bulloch who have driven up from Edinburgh today. They’ve been taking advantage of the recent spell of nice weather to do a little photography and also to be able to sit outside at a Covid safe distance to tell us a little about their photography.
Tim: Our readers may have heard of Andrew Bulloch before as you won the Youth Category of the Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2017. Could you tell me a little bit about how you got into photography and how you ended up entering and winning the category?
Andrew: Well, I got given a camera for my birthday, just a little point and shoot really. And then I went on a camping trip with one of our friends up at Loch Ossian. One morning we woke up, well, I woke up because everyone else was still in bed, and the Loch was completely calm and stunning. So I took out my camera, went down to take a few snaps and it was serene, so calm. That was pretty much when I first thought that it would be good fun taking photographs.
T: And being able to get up early in the morning is definitely a good asset to have as a landscape photographer. Not one I’m blessed with sadly. I imagine with a good result from your first photography you started to go out regularly?
A: Yes, because after we got back Dad said “Oh they’re quite good”, he was probably a bit jealous, and he entered it into the Scottish Nature Photography Awards and I think it got Commended, which I was surprised by considering it was my first shot at photography. After that we got out all of the time and take a camera everywhere just in case.
T: And your Dad is a photograph as well?
Grant: I’m not a full-time photographer, I’m an architect by profession and I have an architecture practice to run. We really started at the same time though. When I was young I had a camera too and I remember a family friend taking us up North to Skye, up the West coast to Ullapool and places like that. I remember also waking up quite early and going down to the water’s edge overlooking Gruinard Island, and those were the days when it was still contaminated with Anthrax, and it was 4am and I remember taking a photograph as well which I’ve only remembered recently.
T: Did you stop and then take it up again more recently then?
G: Yes, I didn’t take it all that seriously. I was studying architecture and had a young family and it was until really the same time as Andrew took it up that I decided I wanted to do this properly. I got a decent camera and eventually, I gave Andrew my old SLR camera. So we’ve been learning together.
T: So you’ve been out on many trips together I imagine. Is it mostly Scotland?
A: Yes, pretty much all Scotland.
T: When you’ve got it on your doorstep why would you not.
A: Exactly! It’s not far and it’s pretty much one of the best places you can got.
T: So where are some of your favourite places to go?
A: One of my favourite trips is when we went up to Assynt. I’d finished my exams quite early because they were all at the start of term so then I had a few weeks off while the rest of my friends were all still studying so we just took the car up and went for a few days canoeing near Suilven, camping and we walked up to the top to get a kind of sunrise, which never really happened, but it was a really good trip.
G: We ended up on Suilven by 10am in the morning I think and it took us three hours to paddle in against the wind and one hour to paddle back out again because it was so strong.
T: I’m looking at another picture from an urban environment, tell me about this picture of an Aurora in front of an urban skatepark.
A: Yes, that’s from Musselburgh, just East of Edinburgh and that was in March 2016 when there was a really big Aurora. I was actually in the car on the way back from Church and we could literally see the green in the sky, and that was against all of the city lights in the centre of Edinburgh. At the same time as I was coming back, my Dad was texting saying “Look at the sky! Look at the Sky!” so we both sprinted back to the house, got all of our gear and went back out to Musselburgh harbour to go see it away from the lights. Once we’d got a few basic shots of the Aurora on its own we remembered before that we’d photographed the skate park and it would make a good foreground for a shot and this was the perfect opportunity.
T: It’s worked out with a great alignment against the North sky
G: And that was taken on the old Canon and I remember that if you went up above 400ISO it was like taking a shot through a tea bag. But he got the shot that night with such a bright aurora and mine were just not that good.
T: This was the photograph that won the competition for you?
A: Yes that’s the one that won the landscape photographer of the year.
T: I read in your email that Charlie gave you a personal call?
G: I got the call first. We were Sainsbury’s pushing the shopping trolley and the phone went with an unrecognisable number and the person on the phone said “My name’s Charlie Waite..”. In those days I hadn’t a clue who Charlie Waite was, I had no idea about the photographic scene, I didn’t know all the big names. I can’t remember how he worded it but he said something like “Is your son in the vicinity?”. I’m looking around down in the isles to see if somebody is stalking us or something but eventually, he explained who he was and so I had to leave the trolley and go out the front to discuss it and arrange a call for later when Andrew was at home.
T: So you set Andrew up for his own call then?
G: Yes but of course when you’re that age kid’s don’t answer the phone so we had to persuade him to go and answer the phone when it rang.
A: The phone rang and my Dad just said “That’s for you!” and I was like “How do you know?”
G: Of course when you submit the photos for Landscape Photographer of the Year you do it in March or something and then you don’t hear about anything until October so he’d forgotten he’d entered it. So he came through and said “Dad! I think I’ve won something!”
T: So you got to go down to the exhibition at Waterloo
A: Yes and you get to see all the photos and that’s the first time I’d seen it printed. I got to talk to all of the other photographers there too. I’d never really been to anything like that before and we had Ray Mears presenting the award too
T: We’re looking through a few of your photos here and this is another competition winner from the year after I think. I think this must be of the Beast from the East hitting Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat. How did you get up there first of all because didn’t everything end up shut down?
A: Well yeah it did but this is only 10 minutes walk from our house. I’d actually been up earlier in the day with my friends. We’d been up sledging in a complete blizzard. But then when I got back it cleared up a little so I thought I’d see if I could get a photo from up there. And just as we got to the top there was just a perfect clearing with a view of the next weather front coming through. You just knew it was going to hit at any second. We met another Edinburgh photographer, Graham Niven up there and his photograph of the same view also won Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year so obviously it was a winning formula.
G: I quite like the fact that the area of white in the bottom right there is the top of Salisbury Crag and it balances well with the top of the storm which is dark and foreboding. When you see it quite large it looks like the background is out of focus but it just because of the amount of snow billowing around the city. It was incredible.
T: It just down the Central Belt for a while didn’t it?
G: He was off school for a week so he was as happy as Larry! Coming off the summit though there were huge snowdrifts, which is just unhead of in Edinburgh. Andrew was up to his waist and we had to pull him out.
T: The next picture we’re looking at is a sort of urban wildscape. A football field in the middle of nowhere!
A: Yes, this was on Eriskay. This was a rather wet Summer holiday in North Uist and one of days was just so dismal we thought why not just drive south to see what we find. This was at the point where we turned around and started to go back. We spotted the football pitch to play on it first as we had a football and I’m a keen footballer, so we had a wee two a side match, me and my Mum against my Dad and my Brother, I think they won, unfortunately.
T: Did you know the football field was there before you set off?
A: No, we didn’t have a clue. We just drove past and thought, “Wow! What a spot!”. There were sheep on the pitch and if you kicked the ball too hard it was in the sea.
T: It got picked up by FIFA did it?
G: It had already won an award and they had seen it from there, Scottish Nature Photography Awards, and it subsequently went on to win the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the year too. So they called and said “Hello it’s so and so from FIFA” and I’m thinking who’s FIFA? Is it a construction company? Eventually, it clicked and then after FIFA featured it, the BBC picked it up and then it became an article on the BBC website about the location.
T: This next picture of the Bowfiddle brings up a question of how you work together when you’re in the same location.
G: It’s inevitable that you’ll be pointing the camera in the same direction for many locations. We were just there two weeks ago where we were based in Findochty. We got up at sunrise hoping to get the sun rising through the hole in the Bow Fiddle. For this picture we were staying for New Year and the weather was terrible, absolutely howling. There’s a lovely little harbour down there and the waves would crash into the coast and explode over the harbour wall. We got some fantastic photos overlooking the harbour but every day we would look at the Bow Fiddle and say “Not today - no good at all” but one morning my wife and I decided to have a lie-in, not more sunrises. But the door slamming shut woke us up which woke my wife who looked out of the window and said “that’s Andrew, he’s heading off to the harbour, you’d better get up and chase him”. “Has he got my camera bag?” “yes!” Well, that was it, he might survive a dunking but my camera wouldn’t. I never did find him even though another photographer had seen him. On that morning Andrew had noticed that the corner of the rock had lit up and we realised it was worth another go. On the final day we went down and we were lucky with the weather. It was one of those moments where you think “this might be a good one” so I gave Andrew my camera so he could get the best possible result. We put a mark on the camera to indicate it was then Andrews photos from there on and this was the result. At the end of that morning we were just about to leave and I saw another photographer, Martin Devlin, was up on the edge of the rocks and he gave the whole thing a sense of scale, so I got down really low to bring some foreground in and it looks very different from Andrew’s shot. I don’t know what age Andrew was at the time, I think he was 14, but somehow he managed to set up my full-frame Nikon on the big tripod, on slippery rocks and get the ND filter in for a long exposure without breaking anything at all. I was quite impressed.
T: So that photograph did quite well in the competitions as well didn’t it?
A: Yes that one won the Classic View category
T: So that is really the one that everyone wants to win as well. It’s very competitive and I know a few people who have said they’d be happier winning the Classic View than any other category (apart from the money which makes a difference!).
So when you come up to Scotland are these dedicated photography trips?
A: Most of the time it’s just a family holiday that we try and force as many photographic stops into as possible. Much to the dismay of Mum and my brother so we have to be quick sometimes so we don’t get shouted at.
G: It’s difficult, especially when the kids are younger because you only have so much holiday you can take so we have to make the most of it. I think we’ve done quite well over the years though.
T: So where do you got out locally if you have the time?
G: East Lothian! North Berwick, Dumbar, the East Lothian coast definitely. We do a lot of urban photography in town as well. Just two weekends ago they had a stunning lightshow in Edinburgh.
T: This next photograph we have another from the Islands I think. A yellow runway of flowers
G: Indeed - I don’t know where this came from. It was a school holiday so it must have been the start of July. We went up to Berneray for the day and walked right around the island. There’s a little community centre next to the car park where there was a discarded combine harvester in the field which was just random, sitting there, rusting away. Just behind it was this strip of yellow flowers. I just enjoy it because it’s the texture of the sky and clouds and the textures in the grasses. We’d missed most of the wildflowers so I don’t know how these appeared like this. If anybody knows how this happens I’d love to know.
T: And people can see some of these photographs at your exhibition coming up in Dundee
G: Yes in Dundee at the Dock Street Studios for the whole of September. We were offered the use of the gallery and obviously I just said yes and then thought what on earth have I done. It’s a large gallery and it’s going to take about forty pieces to fill it. Andrew had already had a couple of small exhibitions, one which was a celebration of his first few years.
T: Was this local to Edinburgh?
A: Yes that was at Winton Castle just out of East Lothian. Some very nice friends of ours loaned us the front room and we invited everyone we knew to come and see the images. You see things totally differently when you see them up on the wall, I’d only seen them on computer screens before. Suddenly it’s printed out and sometimes they look a lot better than you had thought.
G: It is interesting because we’ve had one or two that just didn’t work as prints. It’s strange how your perception changes when you see it on paper but some are just great. We sold about a third of the pictures in the exhibition over a weekend which was very good. We had some leftover at the end, as many do, so when the offer for the gallery in Dundee came up we said let’s just go for it and we’ll celebrate both of our photography experiences together.
T: How did you go about choosing which photographs to exhibit then? There are obviously a few obvious ones.
A: Yes there are obviously some that have won the awards and some that we already had prints of. But there were a few that had never been printed before and we wanted to see what they looked like. It’s great to see them.
T: Who is printing them for you?
G: Loxley are printing them but we haven’t got them back yet. I’ve been to sign some of them and some we’re only showing as prints hung from beams with bulldog clips but anything on the wall will be properly framed. All of the ones were showing unframed will be printed on a museum rough paper so it will have a texture to. It’s going to be tough in September as we’ve still got Covid to deal with. How many people will come we don’t know. You have to try though.
T: This next picture of yours Grant is just around the corner. Coire Gabhail, the Lost Valley.
G: Yes, we came up for a weekend before lockdown, this was just the week before, and the idea was that we were going to camp but the weather was absolutely horrific. It poured down. I don’t mind the cold but the rain was relentless. So we managed to find some accommodation for the night and came back the next morning and none of the vistas were going to work. So we thought we’ll just concentrate on the water, the rivers, the waterfalls, whatever we can find. We actually set ourselves a little task of focussing purely on that, which is not something we normally do, we usually go out and just photograph what’s available. We don’t go out trying to work on a theme or a project portfolio.
T: You mentioned that this was inspired by the fact that the Landscape Photographer of the Year had a new Portfolio category, photographs with some connection?
G: That’s right. We don’t normally go out and think about competitions but the idea of a set of pictures was in the back of our minds when we were doing this.
T: So whereabouts was this taken from?
A: This was up the Lost Valley, just before you cross the stream on the top path where you can look across at the other side. I really liked all the little trees growing out of almost nothing and with waterfalls appearing everywhere. There were loads of different compositions you could find.
T: Will this be in the exhibition then?
G: This one will be and Andrew has one in with a different composition. They will work well on the museum rough paper as well. I enjoyed the day, it’s one of those compositions where the image just worked in the viewfinder. The colours just stood out and you could see the water dripping off every single leaf. It’s not my usual thing as a lot of what I do is quite simple but this is quite different.
T: Not many people photograph in the Lost Valley as well because the light can be quite difficult.
G: Andrew’s photograph had some difficulties with the light from the end of the valley where the grass stood out too brightly so we had to wait until it dulled down a little too much.
T: and our final picture from Rothiemurchus
G: We had a weekend with just my wife and I, without any children. We went for a walk towards Lairig Ghru. It was a grey day with nothing much happening but I took all my camera equipment, I always do, and it was just beautiful. We didn’t quite make it as far as Lairig Ghru as it was cold and windy. So we turned back and it was just about half an hour back through the forest and there was just a glimmer of sunlight and I thought ‘this is it’. This was where we stood at the time and I didn’t even have time to get the tripod out, it was just a case of grab the camera. I did a focus stack but did it hand held, focussed on the tree in the distance, took a photograph focussed on the near tree. It was good enough. I like the soft light and although I’m not one for misty, soft tree photos, I like this, the colours, the softness of the forest floor. And again, this is one that should look great on the textured paper because of the pastelly colours.
T: Andrew, I know you’re off to University next year, do you have plans to travel for photography?
A: We did actually have plans to visit the Faroe Islands in May, just before the Coronavirus locked down the country, but obviously that hasn’t happened.
T: Where are you going to University then?
A: I’m going to be in Edinburgh but I’m hoping I’ll still be able to get out and do some photography at the weekends etc. It’s all online so I could do the course from anywhere!
T: You could do it from the Highlands then! Is all of it online now?
A: Most of it is going to be online but tutorials, etc will be face to face.
T: You’ve been very successful with your photography over the past few years, what plans do you have going forwards?
A: I don’t have any concrete plans as such, I’m just concentrating on the exhibition in Dundee.
T: So tell me a bit more about the exhibition
A: It’s running from the 3rd to the 26th of September
G: There’s a kind of private view on Saturday the 5th in the morning but because of COVID we have to have bookings so there’s an Eventbrite page you can book on. Andrew and I will be there on the 5th. The gallery is only open three days a week, Thursday Friday and Saturday but on the 12th we are also holding a couple of events. We’re trying to celebrate the subject of young photographers and families who photograph together so we’re having a family photo walk around Dundee. The idea is that kids will come along with parent or parents and a camera or phone and we’ll talk a bit about the photographs in the gallery and what he’s done and then they’ll go around the city with two or three suggested venues, the V&A, Discovery or Docks area for instance, and we’ll have people at those venues to help if they need any. Then we’ll all come back to the gallery, download their favourite photo from the day and we’ll print it out, put it on the wall and talk about it. I want them to say why they like the photo, we’ll say why we like it etc. We’re hoping it will just encourage young people to take part in photography just like Andrew has been encouraged by Charlie Waite or the Scottish Nature Photography Awards people who were absolutely fantastic.
T: We’ll include all the details in the magazine and hopefully you’ll have some of our readers visiting. Many thanks for coming today!
The exhibition is called Norðurland <Northlands> after the northern landscapes of both Scotland and Iceland. The venue is the Dock Street Studios, 10 Dock Street, Dundee DD1 4BT.
Dates: 3rd to 26th September, open Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm
Private View: Saturday 5th September 10am to 1pm by booking only.
There is also a Family Photowalk on Saturday 12th from 12.30 to 3pm. A chance for kids to join the artists in the gallery, before going out on a photowalk round the city centre. Bring back your favourite photo, tell us why you like it and we’ll tell you why we love it too! Every participant will have their best photo hung in the gallery and can take it home after the exhibition closes. Kids are to bring a camera or mobile and an adult!
An evening of short photography talks with David Queenan, John Pow and Grant Bulloch will be held on the 12th September 7pm to 9pm
You can see more work by Andrew and Grant at their website, www.bulloch.photography.