Scott Robertson: In the spotlight

Scott Robertson is a 'strictly amateur' and highly traditional British landscaper based in the Scottish Highlands with a natural flair for capturing the grand scenery of his home country. Nick Smith puts him in the spotlight...

Nick Smith Are you happy to be seen in the category of 'landscape' photographer?
Scott Robertson I live in the Scottish Highlands and there are a lot of big vistas here. The type of photography I'm interested in lends itself quite well to the grand view. I've never pigeonholed myself in any particular category – I just like to take pictures of the landscape. So my work is a product of where I live, where I can get to at the weekends and in the evenings.

NS How did you get started?
SR I've always had a passion for hillwalking. When I was in my teens, I did a lot of climbing, but further education got in the way, and then the need to find employment. And I just got out of the way of enjoying the outdoors. But one day I decided to go out for a walk with just a small pocket camera, and I started snapping away. I had no idea about what I was shooting, but when I got home and looked at the pictures on my computer I was just blown away by them and I thought 'this is great'.

Above Loch Tulla,Argyll and Bute.

NS But most people hate their really early work...
SR I really liked my early pictures. But you've got to bear in mind that I had at the time no knowledge of what the really great photographers, such as Joe Cornish and Charlie Waite, were doing. I didn't know these people existed.

NS So these guys were to become your infl uences?
SR Well, not exactly. Up until that point I'd been interested in music, and was frequenting the same online audio forums as the photographer Mark Littlejohn. But then he went a bit quiet on the forums, and after three or four months he turned up again, only with all these great landscape photos. It was really Mark's pictures that got me back into the mountains and got me taking photos as well. I could see what Mark was achieving and I thought if he could do it then I could do it as well. He's been a heavy influence on me, and when I ask for his advice he's always very open about it.

'Moody Buachaille II', Highland.

NS Who or what helped you to develop your style?
SR I would say that I'm self-taught. Obviously there are many resources on the internet. So it was looking at other people's pictures and studying them: why does this work? What is it I like about this picture? I looked at thousands: some good, some bad. And this led me to decide for myself what I'd like to see in a picture and then to go out and shoot it. Not copying, but looking at elements of other pictures, and then looking for good light and interesting subjects.

NS So are you really completely amateur?
SR Photography is very much a hobby for me. I work full-time as a mechanical engineer in aluminium smelting. I look after all the maintenance in the casting department.

Traigh Seilebost, Isle of Harris.

NS And as an amateur, do you think you're a 'natural' photographer?
SR To be honest I don't really feel as though I'm a 'creative' person. I've tried to play musical instruments and I can't. I've tried to draw and I can't. And so when it comes to photography, at first I found it difficult to take images I thought were creative. To be honest, I don't rate my pictures that highly. There's a lot of my work that, when I look at it, makes me think that I could have done better.

NS Could that be why your work continues to evolve in terms of quality?
SR Sure. In five years' time I want to be a better photographer than I am now. I have an obsessive personality. Anything I do, I want to do as well as I can. So I'm competitive, but I don't think there's such a thing as a perfect shot.

NS Would you ever turn pro?
SR No. I take pictures that I like, and if other people like them too, that's great.

Scott 's critical moments

2012 Rediscovered my love for hillwalking. Bought first point-and- shoot camera.
2012 Attended first and only landscape workshop.
2013 Bought first fullframe DSLR and was commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year.
2014 Commended in Scottish Nature Photography Awards.
2015 Dropped DSLR in the sea, and was absolutely distraught.
2016 Visited St Kilda and Boreray sea stacks to live out my dream of photographing these small isles. 

Scott 's top tips

  • One thing I never go on a shoot without is... my waterproofs. I detest getting wet and cold, because that st ops me taking photos properly.  
  • My one piece of advice would be to... when working with landscapes, especially woodland locations, try to use the chaos to your advantage.
  • Something I try to avoid is... distract ions at the edge of the frame. Before you press the shutter release, check the borders of the image.

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