Ootlier, n, Shetland dialect: creatures without a roofed shelter
Outlier, n: an observation that is deemed to be unusual because it does not follow the general pattern.
In the dialect of Scotland’s northern isles, an ootlier is a hardy outdoor animal, such as a Shetland sheep, which overwinters outdoors, rather than in a barn. In mathematical and scientific data, an outlier is a value at a distance to the others in a set. Outliers can greatly affect an end result: they are the observations that make a difference to any overall conclusion.
As a photographer, I regard myself an ootlier in both senses: I am an outdoor animal, most often to be found in the landscape in all weathers: up a mountain, in a bog, on a moor, either in my running shoes, or with a camera, or, indeed, sometimes with both. I also think that the role of a good photographer is that of an outlier: not to follow a predictable pattern, but to aim for results that might allow us to see things a little differently.
In my work, I strive to create images that prompt such new perspectives. I’m particularly interested in the relationship between the made environment (architecture, industry) and the ‘natural’ environment (landscape, place, flora, fauna). Ideas of ‘wildness’ are currently much in vogue in the mainstream media, but in Scotland there are, in fact, very few truly wild places (however much this might be desired by a metropolitan constituent longing for an ‘unspoilt’ rural playground). What Scotland does abound with, however, are places of profound and stunning beauty, where the combined work of humans and animals both shapes the landscape, and defines it. I’m interested in this labour, in the dignity of it, and in the way that it defines our sense of place today. From wool to water, from forestry to farming, wherever you go in Scotland you will always find yourself in a working landscape.
I have a Phd in biology, and was a scientist before I made photography my career. I love the technical aspects of my craft, and think my background might tell itself in both my fondness for infrared, and for photographing flora.
I live here in Scotland with my wife, Kate, and my dog, Bruce, and enjoy hill running.