These images are taken from Catching the Tide, a long-term project documenting the lives and work of Scotland’s last remaining coastal netsmen, fishermen who use centuries-old methods to fish for salmon.
The project’s aim is to capture the essence of the work, the relationship between the salmon fishermen and their social and natural environment and to build an archive which could be used by future generations as a visual memory of the past.
The photographs were made at various netting stations around Scotland’s long and varied coastline and feature a number of men who have been associated with salmon fishing for generations. For the last 30 years the industry has been in sharp decline, due to falling fish numbers, harsh economic circumstances and an aggressive policy by angling interests to buy out the netting companies and individual fishermen.
The images featured below are from the early part of the project, from the mid-1990s through to 2003. Two years later, a film celebrating the project was made. Originally broadcast on Scottish Television, Catching the Tide has since toured film festivals and been shown on television in a number of countries.
Since then, I have continued to work with the fishermen and have staged a number of exhibitions across Scotland featuring the work. A permanent collection of images also now resides within the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland and in London as The Forman Collection.