on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Turning Back from the Edge of the World

Beka Globe, images from St Kilda

Thomas Peck

The real pleasure of photography is that it forces me to slow down and really look. That’s never easy in our rushed world, so a chance to stop, look and see is truly valuable.


Beka Globe is a photographer based on the Isle of Harris. I originally came across her work whilst leading a workshop in the Hebrides. We drove past the studio that she runs with her husband Nikolai, stopped to have a look and discovered her wonderful and dramatic black and white photographs of the islands. The image that caught my eye that day was an astonishing photo of a wave called Romagi Sea, so close into the rip curl that it suggested Beka had been in the water when she took it (impossible, way too dangerous). But having spent time with her book Land, Sea and Sky I’ve come to admire her images of St Kilda even more, and the photo here: Boreray Gannets is a great example of the portfolio.

St Kilda…, it sounds like a lost place from the past: Celtic overtones, obscure Irish saints - although the name could equally be a corruption of the Old Norse words sunt kelda (meaning sweet well water) - the etymology itself takes us far away to a place that resonates of remoteness and distance. Extreme isolation. St Kilda is actually a small archipelago of islands (Hirta, Boreray, Dùn and Soay) 40 miles west of Benbecula in the North Atlantic Ocean. Battered by Atlantic storms in the winter it’s only during the summer that hardy travellers get a chance to visit. Although the islands were inhabited from the Iron Age, the last islanders were evacuated in 1930 having voted that their way of life was no longer sustainable. St Kilda is deserted and abandoned. The place has been left to seabirds: gannets, fulmars and puffins.

Boreray Gannets

Boreray Gannets

The inaccessibility and remoteness of the location comes through strongly in Beka’s image.

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