Creative courses on Easdale island in 2019

Following on from the success of our 2018 programme, we are delighted to announce that we will be running a series of creative courses in photography, writing and filmmaking on the island in 2019.

It looks set to be a busy year creatively on Easdale island. Firstly, our popular short, residential photography courses will return for a third year, hosted again by Colin McPherson and Adam Lee and will take centre stage, with four separate dates in June, July and September. We are also delighted to announce the return to Easdale of internationally-acclaimed screendance artist and filmmaker Katrina McPherson, who will host two five-day courses, one in June and the other in September. Finally, we have a new addition to our programme, as award-winning journalist and writer Louise Tickle hosts a course entitled ‘writing to challenge and change your world’ in November.

We welcome questions and enquiries on all our courses, which are open and accessible to a wide range of people, whatever their skill levels and interests. We aim to provide a warm welcome and a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy your course set in the unique surroundings of Easdale island. Getting to and from Easdale is straightforward, either by car or using the good public transport links between Glasgow and Oban. All our accommodation is of high-quality, with all modern amenities provided.

Please get in touch if you require any further information on the following:

Photography courses hosted by Colin McPherson and Adam Lee.

Screendance in the landscape with Katrina McPherson.

Writing to challenge and change your world with Louise Tickle.

If you have any questions, in the first instance email Colin McPherson at colinmcpherson@mac.com.

Screendance in the landscape with Katrina McPherson

This course offers participants an amazing opportunity to work with Katrina McPherson, one of the  most celebrated and innovative contemporary artists who uses dance and film to create outstanding and acclaimed bodies of work. This intensive, hands-on course will allow participants to learn directly from Katrina, taking as their inspiration the work she has produced over a 30-year career. Participants will be tutored and guided into planning and making a short piece of work, which will incorporate film, dance and the dramatic landscape of Easdale island. Professional dancers  are provided as a resource, and participants will be encouraged to take a collaborative approach to making their work on the island. Katrina will be supported by her brother, Colin McPherson, a photographic artist whose work has been exhibited and published at home and abroad for nearly 30 years. He will lead a short technical session on cameras, composition and light.

We currently are offering two dates in 2019:

Sunday 9th until Saturday 15th June

Saturday 31st August until Friday 6th September

What is included:
  • All teaching, guidance and encouragement.
  • Your accommodation. We have six bedrooms for participants, in two separate cottages, Chattan and An Rubha. (Katrina and Colin will stay nearby 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 six mornings of your stay, including day of departure. A light lunch, consisting of soup, sandwiches and salad on each of five full days of the course. Five simple evening meals, which will be eaten communally. Tea, coffee and soft drinks will be provided.  On the last 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. This is at participants’ own discretion, 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 (capable of shooting video), with a small selection of lenses if appropriate, a tripod and suitable clothing for all weathers, including robust footwear. We can provide you with a camera if necessary, however. Either a laptop or external hard-drive to store footage 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.

Further information on how to reserve your place can be found on Katrina’s website.

Writing to challenge and change your world with Louise Tickle

We are delighted to be able to offer this course for the first time, hosted by the award-winning social affairs journalist and commentator Louise Tickle. Lasting three full days, this course is for anyone with a desire to transform their world and an urge to write with a purpose.

Is there a burning issue you want to explore?

An injustice you want to campaign against?

A problem you want other people to care about?

Louise has written extensively on domestic abuse, failures of safeguarding in the state school sector and the effects of poverty on children’s education, as well as international development and the environment. She has a particular interest in family courts and the care system, and is a member of The Transparency Project which aims to promote greater understanding of family law.

Her features, long-reads and opinion pieces are published in a wide variety of national news outlets. She is a regular Guardian contributor, a columnist for Family Law Journal, runs media training courses, and is frequently invited to speak at public events and debates. In lighter moments she writes on activity travel including, most recently, an open water swimming trip to the Arctic Circle for BBC Wildlife magazine.

She recently took up the role of the first ever “journalist at large” to be appointed by the charity Local Trust, and is the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Ideas and Pioneers Fund award enabling her to spend nine months on her Open Family Court project, through which she is exploring how to effect greater transparency across the family law system.

Louise has considerable experience of designing and delivering bespoke media training courses, and co-founded a popular series of conferences called What Journalists Want that ran over three years, aimed at communications teams from the voluntary, public and education sectors.

In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils for her work on the BBC One film Behind Closed Doors and her Guardian reporting on domestic abuse. In 2016 she was also shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Journalism, and was joint winner of the Bar Council’s Legal Reporting Award. She has won a number of CIPR Awards for outstanding education journalism, and has twice been winner of the Rosemary Goodchild Award for Sexual Health Journalism run by Brook and the Family Planning Association.

Drawing on over 15 years’ experience of reporting and campaigning journalism, Louise will guide participants through the process of:

  • tightly defining the issue at hand
  • identifying a selection of story strands within it
  • sourcing and deploying evidence within your writing
  • using lively and illuminating quotes
  • providing balance / being fair
  • structuring a short news article or blogpost
  • researching and sustaining a compelling piece of longer writing

It doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced writer or not, but please come with at least one firm idea for an issue you are keen to explore.

Essential items to bring:

A laptop that is wifi enabled

A notebook

Any reports or other research materials that you would like to draw on

Dawn breaks over the former slate-quarrying island of Easdale in Argyll, on Scotland's west coast.

This is a unique opportunity to ‘get away from it all’ and benefit from the peaceful environment offered by Easdale island and work with one of the UK’s leading journalists. The date of the course is:

Saturday 16th until Wednesday 20th November, 2019. (Arrival should be timed for the afternoon of 16th November. There will be three full days of tuition, before participants depart on the morning of the 20th November.)

What is included in the course fee:

  • All teaching, guidance and encouragement!
  • Your accommodation. We have six bedrooms for participants, in two separate cottages, Chattan and An Rubha. (Louise will stay in separate nearby 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 four mornings of your stay, including day of departure. A light lunch, consisting of soup, sandwiches and salad on each of three full days of the course. Three simple evening meals, which will be eaten communally. Tea, coffee and soft drinks will be provided.  On the last 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. This will be at your discretion 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.
  • Personal equipment for your use.
  • 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.

Places are limited to six participants and the course costs £425.00. There is an early bird offer of a £30.00 discount if you reserve your place before 1st March, 2019. To secure your place,  we require a £50.00 non-refundable deposit, which will be subtracted from your final balance, which will be due to be paid in full by 23rd September, 2019. To find out more information about what is on offer, please email colinmcpherson@mac.com in the first instance.

Creatively re-set your photography with Colin and Adam

Professional photographers Colin McPherson and Adam Lee will guide you through two days looking into ways to ‘re-set’ your practice and how to develop the idea of shooting a photographic essay, story or narrative.

These short courses are aimed at people who love photography and want to take their practice to a new level. Your teachers will help you explore what makes a great photograph and how to take one. Enjoy a stimulating and rewarding visit to one of Scotland’s hidden treasures – Easdale island.

We look forward to welcoming you to Easdale island, a stunning and unique location on Scotland’s west coast which will inspire you. Our aim is to share our knowledge and experience with you, to spark your creativity and to give you the confidence to explore new ways of seeing and making photographic images.

The course is run over two full days (three nights), and allows you time and space to explore and photograph. You will be given one-on-one support and the opportunity to share and discuss their work with others in the group.

From ‘Who Pays the Ferryman?’ by Andy Groom (all rights reserved).

“I‘m so happy I attended the weekend photography course on Easdale island. In addition to their wealth of technical experience both Colin and Adam are patient and supportive instructors. They made sure everyone felt comfortable regardless of their experience level.”  AE, Edinburgh

Easdale 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. It can be reached by train on the dramatic and beautiful railline from to Oban, or is a pleasant two-and-a-half hour drive from Glasgow.

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 beautiful 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.

We welcome anyone on to the course who has an interest in taking photographs, even if your chosen camera is a Smartphone. Although there will not enough time to teach individuals about the basics of cameras, we can offer to guide you in many of the basic rules of image making which will help you  create stunning pictures.

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, eat, relax, chat about photography and familiarise ourselves with our surroundings. We’ll even have some fun doing light painting, using long exposures and flashlights to create beautiful images at twilight. The following morning, we begin our journey.

From ‘A Sense of Home’ by Katya Willems (all rights reserved).

“I just wanted to say again how much I enjoyed the course, a truly inspiring experience… I’ve been doing lots of reflecting about what we covered and trying to put it into practice!”
SM, Argyll

On Day 1 we will look at simple, practical techniques to improve your photography skills… including best ways of composing photographs (the rules and how to break them!), understanding the light and photographing people. The day will be a mixture of easy-to-follow teaching and practical exercises which can benefit your existing skills. You will have time and space to explore the island and take as many photographs as you want. The day will be broken into three, with refreshments and advice available throughout.

On Day 2 we will put what you have learned into practice… we would like you to set yourself a little project for the day: whether it be a human-interest story, a set of themed landscapes (or seascapes?) or indeed anything which has sparked your interest. We can advise you on how to tell stories through multiple images, portraiture and how to create your own distinctive, personal style of photography.

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 your work with the other participants at the end of each day. Adam and Colin always on hand to offer advice, guidance and cups of tea. 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.
Meet the tutors…
Colin McPherson – www.colinmcpherson.com
Born in Edinburgh, 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 Getty agency. He was a major contributor to the The Independent and was the official photographer for the 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay. 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 including at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and Impressions Gallery, Bradford. His new exhibition of work made on Easdale island is being shown at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol, before touring around Scotland.

Adam is a freelance photographer and photography facilitator based in Liverpool. 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 of England. As a 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. Recently, Adam has started undertaking long distance walks, which included walking 600 miles along the Pamir Highway in Central Asia. During 2018, he walked the length of Britain with his companion, Martin the Donkey. Adam has written extensively about his adventures.

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. We have 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. We encourage all the participants to join us for the meal (this is not included in the course fee).
  • 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 or stabiliser, 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 dates:

Saturday 7th until Tuesday 10th September

Wednesday 11th until Saturday 14th September

all are three night stays on the island.

We are delighted to offer places on the courses for a fee of £395.

There is an ‘early-bird’ discount of £30.00 if you book before 1st June, 2019. A non-refundable fee of £50.00 is required to secure your place, with the balance due two months prior to the commencement of your course. Please email colinmcpherson@mac.com for details.

Payment can be made by bank transfer, credit/debit card or PayPal.

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 by emailing colinmcpherson@mac.com.

From ‘Slate Story’ by David Buchanan, 2018 (all rights reserved).

“Thank you for organising such an enjoyable and stimulating trip, and for all the patient teaching and encouragement that you and Adam offered.”  MD, Manchester
“This was a fantastically engaging course which I couldn’t recommend enough for a person of any level of experience to do. Colin and Adam were excellent hosts and teachers.”  EC, East Lothian

Join the converstation on our Easdale Island Photography Courses Facebook page.