Inside this issue
Margaret Soraya is a professional landscape photographer based in the Highlands of Scotland. She has a passion for the coast and waves in particular and frequently travels solo around the Scottish islands in pursuit of the perfect wave.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
There’s something about the sea that bewitches, even for those of us who spend our lives largely anchored to the land. With a slow shutter something elemental, raw and at times overwhelming in power, becomes a quieter beast that we may contemplate at our leisure.
There seems an inevitability that Margaret Soraya has ended up making images of the sea, having swapped courses at college so that she could study close to it (in between swimming and surfing). Margaret describes her own values as being based around quiet, solitude and nature. She started leading landscape workshops two years ago and in developing her landscape offer has found a new purpose in helping others.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, your education and early interests, and what that led you to do?
I grew up in Manchester and spent most of my childhood happily drawing and painting by myself. The rest of my spare time I spent swimming! Nothing much has changed, apart from that drawing became photography. I was a very shy, sensitive child who was content to be alone, absorbed in my creativity. The one thing that was pivotal in my life was that my mother always encouraged my creative side. I have no idea where I would be today if this hadn't been the case.
I studied foundation art at Manchester and went on to a Fine Art painting degree in Coventry, which I soon switched for a degree in Photography in the Arts, mostly driven by location. I was unhappy in Coventry and yearned for the coast. So when the opportunity came to go to study at Swansea, I grabbed it. I began surfing within the first few weeks of being in Swansea and felt true alignment with where I was living and creating by the coast. I was often seen running into lectures with wet hair and a surfboard on my car outside the building. My tutors were less than impressed and further had reason to dislike me due to my quietness, lack of confidence, and inability to articulate what the work that I felt so passionate doing was actually about.
Photography came into your life fairly early on, with the sea providing inspiration even then, but the structure of college didn't suit you and you left it behind for a while. When and in what form did it return?
I left my degree in Photography a year early after receiving continuing heavy criticism and a general lack of support and encouragement. I put my cameras down completely for many years after that and started a family and got drawn into the humdrum of life and supporting the family. It was not until 10 years later that I bought a digital camera with the intention of starting a business with it. Quite specifically, a social photography business, which I had identified as being the fastest way to income through Photography.
I have supported my family solely for 16 years now with wedding photography. I have always known that it wasn't my passion, but I did get good at it. It causes me a lot of stress - the sort of pressure when we work in a line of field that is so far out of line with our true passion; it wears us down. I began to shoot landscapes for myself ten years ago after making a conscious decision to start shooting in the landscape again. As my children grew up and life became slightly more stable, I was able to spend more time in the landscape.