I am Somhairle... The Father of Schmo... An Artist... A photographer & A Proud Scottish Highlander.
Hi. Thanks for having a look at my work...
Firstly... I know my name is hard to say. It's pronounced Sorley it's an ancient Gaelic name.
I am an Invernesian living in Glasgow, Scotland and I make pictures.
I am a photographer, graphic design, illustrator, videographer and artist. I have been working as a professional image maker since 2001 and my experience is broad and wide ranging. My love of pictures started in early childhood and I was lucky to have a Mother and GrandPa who were exceptionally talented artists and nurtured and encouraged my talent. My Father was a keen film photographer and I learnt the technical facets of photography from him.
As my work spans many mediums and genres it can be difficult to pin down what it is I actualy do...
Put Simply - I make pictures
I do this in various different ways: with pencils, with computers, with paint, cameras. I work with anything that can make or record marks on paper or on screen. I aim to constantly experiment, evolve, to skew and distort my perceptions to create stand out pieces of visual art which convey meaning for myself and my clients. Every project is a chance to try something new, to convey a story, a feeling, an idea. An opportunity to push my work forward and create something that no one else can.
I work with digital and film, my skills are tranferable throughout and I believe each medium has it's own merits and strong points. I am keen to do more commercial film work and I believe that in an age of photographic perfection, film holds the key to a magical world of imperfection and unique distortion which digital cannot. It is common for me to doctor my images both digitally and manually.
So photography eh?
that's one way to make picures
I have been working as a professional photographer since 2006. My work portfolio spans many genres and like my other artistic work is not something I wish to restrict to a specific area or specialisation. I got into photography mainly to enhance my other work. Through my work as a graphic designer I was contantly bombarded with photographs that were nothing more than crude snapshots. Being brought up and schooled in film by my Father I knew I could do a lot better. So I got a digital SLR and set about it. I have been taking pictures for musicians, engineers, artists, motivational experts, fashion designers, crofters, extreme sports events. You name it I've tried to photograph it.
My approach to photography is very much the same as my other creative work. It must be stylish! It must convey a message! It must have an aethestic that help conveys the message! It must be creative! It must not be over thought, over worked and maintain an element of natural randomness that could not be created out with the moment of capture. All very high brow restrictions I've imposed on myself there eh? It is fair to say not every picture meets these standards or that I even aim for these ideals at all times. You know... Restrictions are good. They help to guide you. To set you down a certain path. However it is a boring and un-inspired person who never ventures off road and down the path of magical and random possibilty. And this my friends is where I am most happy. In a land of unexpected brilliance, where genius falls like rain from the sky. That inexplicable fissure in space time, where everything makes sense and you are just along for the ride, in awe. The possibilty, the beauty, the experience, life itself. This is what I seek, what drives me forward and what I spend every facet of my being pursuing, capturing and ultimately sharing.
Technically my photography over the years has drifted back to a more manual, film derived way of working. Though I am perfectly at home in a studio using big strobes, autofocus and tethered shooting I find that a more stripped back aproach helps my creativity and manufactures the ability to adapt to any given situation with style and panache. Although I shoot a lot of digital cameras I rarely use modern lenses. Prefering the look, feel and simplicty of vintage and modern manual lenses. I still shoot a lot of film and enjoy working with strange fim stocks like infrared, low speed slide fims and expired / damaged film. I am also keen on toy / broken film cameras and their crazy ability to go wrong in such beautiful ways. My photography is never intended to be technically perfect, precise or a true representation of what the camera sees. Every photo I take has been interpreted by me, I am visible in every picture, my style, my choices, my whim and my sense of humour, lust, disgust, hapiness etc. etc...
I have no intention of being a verbatim recorder of events. My camera like my pencils or my paints are just an extension of my general existence and I will do what I want with them! This might make me sound hard to work with. However I have found this flagrant attitude to be very effective at getting to the good stuff. I am not inflexable or single minded, far from it. I simply want to get beyond the half baked ideas, the convention. I have no wish to imitate, to do 'what is normal' or 'what is easy'. I want to make excellent art that screams individuality and creativity.
I am not here to sell you photography.
I am here to show you my work, in the hope that you might like it. That it might plant a seed in your brain that could germinate in to a brilliant idea or project. Sure, if I can take photos for you I will. But more over if you want to create something exceptional:
I can offer so much more than a camera and a finger to press the shutter. A lot of my clients approach me to help develop ideas, to come up with new ways to convey something they have not yet figured out how to. And this I would say is my speciality... Thinking sideways... Looking at things differently to seek out individuality - that unique otherness. To enhance it, package it up and show it to the rest of humanity.
If you have got this far...
Then you may have realised I am not your usual mild mannered, photography archetype. Perhaps you are lumping me in with the arrogant 'I know everything' archetype. But in truth I am neither. I would even go as far to say I am not even a photographer. Aye, Fuck it why not...
"I am not a photographer"
I know this comes across as self righteous arrogant wank, but I really don't consider myself as a professional anything. Maybe a profesional 'Somhairle'. That would be it though. I have to say I'm professional at something to get work don't I? And yes people ask me to take photos for money. They also ask me to draw pictures for them. To design album covers, books, websites. People seem to think I'm quite good at all of this and they pay me for it. But professional? Nah, there's no such thing! In fact the human premise of professionality in the natural world is kind of laughable. You know, humans have come a long way but to pronounce that individually we have reached the absolute zenith of any given specialisation, that to me is arrogant wank!
Honestly I love what I do
I am getting to age now where I am starting to think differently. Family and friends have been dying and I am asking myself how can my small life make a difference. It is a tumultuous time in 2017 and the human realm seems to be regressing into an ignorant, racist, malign state, which it may not recover from. We openly discuss the total destruction of humanity on a daily basis and it's hard to imagine that we are going to be fortunate enough to dodge a time of great difficulty in the near future. So I must do better. Look for the beauty and positivity. Create better work, with more meaning, with greater possibilities of influence. To inspire my Kids and their friends to create a better world in the future. If you would like to create work like this; then I offer my service.