Colin McPherson

Photographer and Visual Artist

Posts tagged ‘coast’

Stormy start

UK - Argyll - Storms

Happy New Year – it’s off to a stormy start here on Easdale Island. Let’s hope that’s not an indication of rough weather ahead.

With lots of plans, ideas and projects to be worked on throughout 2014, it will take more than a few windy days to blow me off course.

I hope you all have a great year whatever you are doing and wherever you are.

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Hardy Annual

Sunset over Mull, from Easdale Island, 2013

‘Sunset over Mull, from Easdale Island, 2013.’ Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

In 2008, I was privileged to be able to travel to the tiny southern African state of Swaziland to explore and photograph the wonderful natural environment and the country’s people. It was an unforgettable experience and one which, by a chance meeting, changed many of my perceptions about Africa.

I encountered Musa, a man then in his late 20s, on a dusty, country road, deep in the Drakensberg mountains. He emerged from the small farm steading he shared with three generations of his family, and we soon struck up a long conversation, during which he told me about his life, the struggle he and his family had with the effects of HIV and Aids and how economic policies of the First World were directly affecting his life and land. I was immediately struck not only by his insightfulness and intelligence, but also his determination to make life better for himself and those around him. He was, and still is, an inspiration to me.

I resolved from that moment to do everything in my limited powers to assist him. Over the following two years, myself, my family and a group of friends helped him attend college part-time to gain qualifications in accountancy. By improving his skills and continuing his education, he would increase his chances of gaining better employment and therefore be able to support his extended family, many of whom were elderly, infirm or ill.

Over the last four years, my principal method of raising money for Musa and his family has been through my participation in the annual Hoylake 10k race, staged in my home town. Through the support of many friends and strangers, I have run and raised over £3000. This money is divided in two: half goes to Musa, to pay for everyday essentials, repairs to his home, or to fund his continuing education. The other half goes to an equally worthwhile cause: the Wednesday Special Needs Club, based at the Hoylake Community Centre (registered charity no. 1015141). They use the money donated to improve facilities for disabled people of all ages who come to use their superb Sensory Garden. I am proud to assist them.

In addition to the money raised through running, my family makes a personal contribution to assist Musa, thereby guaranteeing that the support reaches around £1000 annually. I know from my communications with Musa, that he and his family are deeply grateful for all the help they receive.

So how does my Hoylake 10k fundraising work? Simple: if you wish to support me, you make a guess (or guesses!) as to what my race finishing time will be in minutes and seconds (ie 48:23). The guess which is the nearest inside my official finishing time receives a 20″ x 16″ signed and mounted one-off print of the image displayed at the top of this page. Each year I select one of my photographs to give away as a prize. This year’s image is of two lone figures surrounded by a sunset on Scotland’s west coast. It speaks of the scale and power of nature and how tiny we are as humans in comparison. And yet, we are can make as powerful a contribution to the world as nature itself.

To win the photograph you can guess as many times as you want – each guess costs £5. You can make payments and guesses through Paypal at: or email me your guesses to: – and I’ll send you my details for payment via cheque or bank transfer. It’s that easy! Remember you can guess as many times as you like for £5 per go.

After the finish of the 2012 Hoylake 10k race.

After the finish of the 2012 Hoylake 10k race.

To give you a clue about this year’s finishing time – I am looking at running the race somewhere between 45-55 minutes. The race takes place on Sunday, 15th September, at 11am.

For the last five years I have made this annual appeal. And each year, I am overwhelmed by the response. I hope that you will be able to support me in 2013 and help me raise money and awareness for these two very deserving and worthwhile causes. Many thanks!

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Catching the Tide

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 wild Atlantic 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. At present, a Scottish Government moratorium is in place, meaning that netting is banned completely and none of the existing stations are in operation. The debate about the industry’s future, however, rages on with possible legal action in the offing to overturn the present ban. With increasing concern over the safety and efficacy of farmed salmon, and the ongoing debate about land ownership in Scotland and the status of rod and line angling, salmon netting’s place in Scotland’s contemporary narrative is still talked about. With the announcement that 2020 has been named as theYear of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters, this unique collection of images, many of which have never been exhibited or published, is sure to be of immense public interest.

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.

Over the last decade, I have continued to keep in contact with the fishermen, attending meetings, photographing what is left of the industry and working to develop this unique archive of images. A a number of the images now resides within the photography collection of the National Galleries of Scotland.

Here is a larger edit of monochrome images from the series.

Here is a larger edit of colour images from the series.

Continue reading…

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