First photography courses on Easdale island announced

The Firth of Lorne from Easdale island. Photograph by Colin McPherson

The Firth of Lorne from Easdale island. Photograph by Colin McPherson

Easdale Experiences is delighted to announce the launch of our first practitioner-led photography courses in Argyll, to be held on the island in September, 2016. These short courses are aimed at people who love photography and want to take their practice to a new level. Using the island as our inspiration, our teachers will help you explore what makes a great photograph and how to take one.

We look forward to welcoming you to Easdale island, a stunning and unique location on Scotland’s west coast which we hope will inspire you to learn about the practice and theory of taking great photographs. Our aim is to share our knowledge and experience with you, to help you re-set creatively and to give you the opportunity to explore new ways of seeing and making photographic images.

Our short courses are designed for people who already have a knowledge of how to use a camera but wish to build on their know-how and experience to learn more. The course is run over two full days, with a mixture of theoretical and practical teaching, one-on-one tuition and time for each participant to explore Easdale island to put into practice what has been learned.


The island is a lively place, with plenty to see and do, both on the island and in the immediate area. Once the centre of the Scottish slate mining industry, the abandoned quarries and tiny white-washed cottages give the place an historic atmosphere. Access to the island is via a three-minute passenger ferry which serves as a lifeline for the 65 permanent inhabitants. There are no cars on this inner-Hebridean island, but it does have a pub, tearoom/restaurant, museum and plenty of people coming and going. Set against dramatic coastal and mountain scenery, it is the perfect place to get inspired and take stunning photographs.

The course is hosted and run by professional photographers Colin McPherson and Adam Lee, both of whom have distinguished careers and a wealth of experience in teaching and running practical photography workshops. Participant numbers will be between five and six per course and you will be accommodated in one of two cottages (Chattan and An Rubha) which look out over the Firth of Lorne to the neighbouring island of Mull. Each participant will have his/her own separate bedroom.

To participate on the course, you will be asked to submit a small portfolio of your images, so that we can ascertain what level you have reached in your practice. Both amateur and professional photographer will be welcome, although we reserve the right to select the most appropriate photographers for the course based on their ability and experience. We will not have time to teach absolute beginners on this course, so practical knowledge and experience in ‘handling’ a camera is essential.

If you are accepted on to the course, you will be set a simple and easy ‘assignment’ to bring with you, which we will ask you to share with your fellow participants on the evening of your arrival.

Your arrival will be timed for late-afternoon on the eve of the course. We will use this time to introduce ourselves and each other and look at the work you have brought with you. The following morning, we begin our journey.

Day 1 – Technical Photography

  • Composition – how to make your images look balanced, whether you are photographing landscapes, people or situations.
  • Understanding the light – where it comes from and how do we use it? How to work with and not against elements such as weather and time of day.
  • Creative use of exposure – including how to create the perfect silhouette, and how to photograph in low light situations.
Day 2 – Story Telling


  • Decisive moments: how capture a story in one picture.
  • How to tell stories in multiple images: beginning, middle, end, characters, events and interactions between people.
  • The photographic voice: examples of projects by photographers that demonstrate their distinctive style – and understanding how to find and improve yours.
At the end of the second day, we’ll have some fun doing light painting, using long exposures and flashlights to create beautiful images after dark.
Each participant will have plenty of time each day to put what they have learned into practice and you will be encouraged to make and share their work with the other participants at the end of each day.
There will also be plenty of down time – an opportunity to socialise and share stories and experiences – and to ask lots of questions. We’ll talk about what inspires us to take photographs, how we can turn ideas into stories and how to undertake and complete projects.
You will have the chance to have your portfolio reviewed by both Adam and Colin, so please bring some examples of your work with you if you wish.
You will stay on the island for three nights and departure will be on the morning after day two of the course.


What is included:
  • All teaching, guidance and encouragement to take great photographs. Chattan cottage has a large communal lounge with big screen for looking at and reviewing work. Theory and practice will take place both inside and outside, so come prepared to be on the move.
  • Your accommodation. We have six bedrooms for participants, in two separate cottages, Chattan and An Rubha. (Adam and Colin will stay in separate accommodation on the island). Each cottage has its own well-equipped kitchen, generously-sized bathroom and communal area for socialising. Both cottages have gardens, with Chattan also having a patio to the rear.
  • Meals. The following will be offered as part of the course fee: continental breakfasts on the three mornings of your stay, including day of departure. A light lunch, consisting of soup, sandwiches and salad on each of two full days of the course. Two simple evening meals, which will be eaten communally. Tea, coffee and soft drinks will be provided.  On the third evening, we recommend the short trip to the island’s award-winning Puffer restaurant to sample some of the finest local seafood and other produce from Argyll. There will be a supplement charged for this, but it’s well worth it and we encourage all the participants to join us for the meal.
  • We can arrange free travel to-and-from Oban, the nearest major town to Easdale island (15 miles by road). Oban has railway and bus stations and is a two-and-a-half hours drive from Glasgow airport.
What is not included:
  • Travel to and from Easdale island. You will be asked to make your own way to either Oban or down to the island and to time your arrival for the late afternoon before the day the course commences.
  • Cameras and other equipment for your use. We recommend you bring your own camera, with a small selection of lenses if appropriate, a tripod, flashlight and suitable clothing for all weathers, including robust footwear. Either a laptop or external hard-drive to store images is essential.
  • Your personal insurance. Easdale Experiences, who are facilitating the courses, have all the necessary insurance policies in place for your protection, however, we recommend you have your own travel and personal insurance in the event that you are unable to attend the course after booking, are delayed in your arrival/departure or that your equipment becomes faulty or damaged.
We are offering courses on the following two dates:
Saturday 10th until Tuesday 13th September, 2016, or
Wednesday 14th until Saturday 17th September, 2016 – both three night stays on the island.
We are delighted to offer places on either course for a fee of £350 – with an early-bird discount of £25 if booked before April 15th.
Payment can be made by cheque, Paypal or bank transfer and once accepted on to one of the courses, participants would be asked to pay 50% immediately to secure your place, with the balance due by 10th June, 2016. Cancellations and refunds will be possible, however, deductions would apply.


We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, wish to know more about the island, the course or the teachers, please get in touch using the form below.


The practitioners:


Colin McPherson –
Born in Edinburgh in 1964, Colin McPherson has been photographing at home and abroad for a quarter of a century. He undertakes long-term projects alongside commissions and assignments for a number of newspapers and magazines and is represented by the Corbis agency. He has been a major contributor to the The Independent for over two decades, covering news, features, sport and entertainment for the paper. In 2012, he was a founder member of the Document Scotland photography collective. His work is published internationally and held in archives and collections such as the Scottish national photographic archive. His photography has been featured in more than 30 solo and group exhibitions and his project entitled When Saturday Comes is currently on show as part of Document Scotland’s The Ties That Bind exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh from September 2015 until April 2016. He lives in Merseyside but his connections to Easdale go back over 25 years and he regularly holidays there with his family.

Adam is a freelance photographer and photography facilitator based in Liverpool. As photographer his work has been published in a number of national newspapers including the Observer, the Independent on Sunday as well as commissions for other magazines such as Aeon and Earthlines and clients such as Granta. Aside from commissioned work, Adam also undertakes personal projects, which have been exhibited across the North West England. As facilitator Adam works with a wide range of groups including adult and young people. His clients include Blackpool Museum, Liverpool City Council, Preston City Council, The Library of Birmingham, Redeye the Photography Network, Halton Borough Council and Halton CGG amongst others. Much of this work involve teaching photography skills to groups so that they can tell their own stories and advocate for the issues that affect them. Adam has received Art Council England funding for a number of these projects.


Salmon netters, Sutherland. Photograph by Colin McPherson.

Salmon netters, Sutherland. Photograph by Colin McPherson.

Scottish Highlands. Photography by Adam Lee.

Scottish Highlands. Photograph by Adam Lee.

Pilgrims, Banares. Photograph © Colin McPherson.

Pilgrims, Banares. Photograph by Colin McPherson.

Tower block, Manchester. Photograph © Colin McPherson.

Tower block, Manchester. Photograph by Colin McPherson.

Silhouetted children. Photograph by Adam Lee.

Silhouetted children. Photograph by Adam Lee.

Peat cutters, Lewis. Photograph © Colin McPherson.

Peat cutters, Lewis. Photograph by Colin McPherson.

Liverpool river pilot. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

Liverpool river pilot. Photograph by Colin McPherson.



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