North West was produced while traversing the small communities found within the Scottish Highlands and its surrounding landscapes. The work resists the temptation to photograph the more recognised, familiar scenery on offer, focusing instead on the small man-made interventions and human traces found within the different environments. Adopting a low-key approach, each image aims to present a quiet, understated account of the area with an emphasis placed on the ordinary, often overlooked elements that were present within the landscape. While undertaking the project I tended not to apply any pre-conceived ideas of what I wanted to photograph, preferring instead to remain open to what I happened to encounter through the simple act of looking and responding to what interested me. By not placing any expectations or conditions on myself I often found the process very satisfying and at times highly rewarding as the unexpected slowly revealed itself.

North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom

The image above was captured on the Isle of Skye, an area of rugged beauty known to many people for its stunning landscape and iconic natural landmarks such as the Cuillin mountain range, the Old Man of Storr, Quiraing and the Fairy Pools. From this a wealth of dramatic, spectacular images exist creating an impression of the island that most people identify and associate with. My preference however was to search out the less travelled roads and tracts of land where I found evidence of a human connection with the landscape. While on the far west of the island, within the township of Milovaig, I came upon this simple structure looking out towards Benbecula and the North Atlantic beyond. Nestled within the rock face, seeking shelter from the extreme weather conditions, the solitary building stands defiant with its solid stonework, strong sheet roof and heavy bolted doors. Perfectly framed between the electricity and telegraph poles, providing a nearby crofter’s cottage the convenience of modern day living, the image appeared to offer me all the elements necessary to make an interesting and compelling picture, including the discarded roof leaving you with more questions than answers.

North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom

Could you tell us a little about yourself as a photographer? 

After leaving school at sixteen I found myself working within the freight forwarding industry for ten years until a desire to pursue my interest in photography saw me return to full time education to study an HNC in Photography at Aberdeen College. This was then followed by freelance work within the Social and Commercial sector until an opportunity to undertake part-time photographic teaching led eventually to a full-time post. Further study then allowed me to gain an HND in Photography, a BA in Commercial Photography (with distinction) and a Licentiate with the Royal Photographic Society.

While based in Aberdeen, Scotland, I have continued to balance various commercial commissions, collaborations, residencies and personal projects with my teaching roles as Lecturer in Photography at North East Scotland College and previously, as Associate Lecturer with Robert Gordons University on the BA Photography programme. 

Now working primarily in series on personal based projects my main area of interest currently falls within both the urban and rural landscape, it’s varying content, and our relationship with the different environments.

North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom

Are you working on any projects at the moment? 

Yes, at the time of writing I am currently working on a companion piece to accompany this project entitled ‘North East’ which will focus primarily on the Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Fife coastlines of Scotland.

North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom

Previous Exhibitions include:

Solo – The Lemon Tree. Aberdeen.

Solo – ‘Gesture’ Seventeen Gallery. Aberdeen.

Group – RGU Graduate Show. Grays School of Art. Aberdeen.

Group – ‘Environmental Perspectives’. BP. Aberdeen.

North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom
North West - Colin Thom

Thank you for sharing your work with us Colin, before you go could you tell us where we can find more of your work? 

www.colinthom.com

Instagram: @colinjthom