Easdale photography courses participant porfolio

It gives us great pleasure to present some of the work which has been made by the participants on our photography courses over the last four years. The work we showcase here was produced participants on our Develop your Narrative course in September, 2019.

We welcomed Kevin Holmes, a keen amateur photographer from Yorkshire, to our Develop your Narrative course in summer 2019, and he produced a body of work which had us thinking and reflecting about things beyond photography.

Kevin brought with him his Buddhist beliefs, and made work around many of the key themes, ideas – and even words – which underpin that faith. Easdale seemed to be the perfect location to make a piece of reflective work, and by using the richness and diversity of the local environment, Kevin was able to illustrate his ideas with subtlety and skill. As well as picking out small details, Kevin also brought the subject to life by looking towards the horizon and including some interesting and original landscapes within the piece he produced.

It is often difficult to communicate ambient ideas into visual meaning, but Kevin succeeded in his mission. We were able to talk him through methods we suggest to help participants thread together their stories. Carefully crafting an edit of the images so that each photograph complements the previous and next ones allows a story to flow and breathe is key to that process. Kevin’s strong themes made his photos illustrative without being didactic and allow the viewer to make their own interpretation of what the work was alluding to.

Kevin was kind enough to share some of his impressions of the course with us: “Easdale is a complex little outpost in the Hebrides, lots of industrial history from the slate trade visible all around and very photogenic, sea, slate and deep watery quarries, and now a rural idyll with whitewashed cottages and a fiercely independent community. The course was three immersive days focused not around technique per se although I, as a novice, learnt a lot, but rather about how the image tells a story to the viewer whoever he or she may be….”



We were delighted to welcome back Sue MacDougall to Easdale island last year. Sue had been one of our participants on our original course back in 2016 and in the meantime had been developing her practice, which is mainly built around beautiful landscapes taken around Argyll, where she lives.

For the Develop you Narrative course, Sue chose to focus her attention on islander Mike MacKenzie, a long-time resident of Easdale and his woodworking business which he runs on the island. Here, Sue takes up the story:

“I invested in my first Nikon DSLR camera four years ago, and with a view to learning more about my camera and making the transition from automatic to manual, I signed up for one of the first residential courses Colin and Adam ran in 2016. With their supportive tuition I successfully made the transition and used the knowledge I had acquired about composition, rule of thirds, leading lines, and making portraits to move my photography on to a different level.

With the intention of challenging myself and developing my photography further, I signed up for the course in September last year. My initial plan had been to do a project about the wild flowers growing on Easdale particularly the ones growing in unusual places like the slate and derelict buildings whilst finding a way to incorporate landscapes, the area of photography I feel comfortable with.

However, Colin introduced me to one of Easdale residents, Mike MacKenzie. I was immediately struck by what an interesting face Mike had. I spontaneously asked Mike if I could photograph him! Mike agreed and I took some shots at his home and then at his workshop. The photos from Mike’s workshop formed my project, MacKenzie at Work.

Photographing Mike took me way out of my comfort zone. However, I thought about previous discussions with Colin and Adam about how to approach photographing people. The importance of being able to put the person at ease, engaging in conversation whilst simultaneously assessing how to take the best shot. I found the lighting challenging but took my time experimenting with my camera settings and taking my time to compose shots whilst engaging Mike in conversation and checking with him if he was still comfortable with me being there. Having the opportunity to photograph Mike, although challenging, was inspiring and fun! It was very satisfying to create a body of work about a specific person. It was a steep but fascinating learning curve.

During both the courses I have attended with Colin and Adam I have absorbed so much about photography and my approach and understanding of the photographic process has deepened. I have drawn on and continue use to draw on their knowledge of documentary photography and their own fascinating personal work projects.”


All image © Sue MacDougall, 2019 all rights reserved.


Jill Jennings is a professional photographer based in the north west of England. She joined us on the course as she wanted to get away and work on something creative which was not rooted in her commercial practice. Over the two days, she produced this lyrical and poetic piece. Here she explains the thinking and inspiration behind the work.

From ‘Power Surge’ © Jill Jennings, 2019 all rights reserved.


“Driving south from Oban I reach the coast, nothing in the weather up until now had prepared me for the wildness of the waves  pounding into the shoreline fuelled by the wind and scrawling showers.  I stopped the car, on the horizon an island lay with its point out to sea, – it must be Easdale.  I took my first photo though the rain splattered windscreen. It seemed like a huge leap of faith that I was to spend the next three days in such a place.

A day later and I’m looking from shore towards Mull and the mainland.  The crashing waves and wind are unrelenting, signs of erosion all around, e.g.  the the pier that was washed away, the slate mines that were flooded and stopped production 100+ years ago leading to the decline of the industry that once thrived on this tiny island.

Meanwhile the slate lays everywhere, black, glistening and forboding.  There are symbols everywhere you look – triangles, abandoned roofs, quarries, angles, corners, warning signs, there’s human traces, and nature reclaiming an industrial past .  There are whitewashed cottages, islanders going about their everyday and even sunshine.

Something magical about being on the island liberates my mind from everyday stresses and routines and I’m  free to create. I’m encouraged though the structure of the course to find visual narratives.  So I wander in this landscape open to interpretation and respond to it according to how I feel inside, thinking in part of my sons’ leaving home to pursue their lives and how that will impact, but also aware of the power of nature – am I looking out or looking in?

On the last day we are asked to make a slide presentation.  I call it Power Surge.

I find a poem in the Island Museum called Aftermath written by Wendy Blakey, an islander, about the ending of a storm, and read this out along with my work. ”

Aftermath by Wendy Blakey
“The silence
was unnerving, after the
of the last
three days.
And instead of
the day long gloom
the incandescent new light
washed gloriously over the rocks
some pink,
some blue of green,
no more dark grey
The storm was over.”
All images © Jill Jennings, 2019 all rights reserved.

Creative courses on Easdale island in 2021

at our modern and comfortable traditional cottages on Easdale island in the heart of the Hebrides.

locally-sourced, freshly-prepared home cooked meals in a convivial setting on Scotland’s west coast.

creative skills directly from artists and top industry professionals on our short residential courses.

Following on from the unfortunate cancellation of our entire programme of courses in 2020 due to the coronavisrus crisis, we are delighted to announce that we will be returing with a series of creative courses in photography, writing and screendance on the island in 2021.

It will be a busy year creatively on Easdale island. Our popular short, residential photography courses return, hosted again by Colin McPherson and Adam Lee. We will be running two separate courses, one aimed at those who want to master some of the bascis of photography and the other for people who want to advance the creative possibilities of their practice. We are also delighted to announce the return to Easdale of internationally-acclaimed screendance artist and filmmaker Katrina McPherson, who will host a five-day course in July. Finally, award-winning journalist and writer Louise Tickle returns to host her course entitled ‘writing to challenge and change your world’ also in November 2020 and July 2021.

We welcome questions and enquiries about all our courses, which are open and accessible to a wide range of people, whatever their skill levels and interests. We will provide you with a warm welcome and a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy your course in the unique and historic surroundings of Easdale island. We aim to look after you so you can get the best out of the courses by catering for you with a menu of freshly-prepared, home cooked meals using local ingredients. Getting to and from Easdale is straightforward, either by car or using the good public transport links between Glasgow and Oban. The accommodation we provide in our traditionally-designed cottages is of high-quality, with all modern amenities provided, including good internet provision.

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.

Creatively re-set your photography with Colin and Adam

Our short, residential courses on Easdale island in 2021:

Practical Storytelling

5-8 June, 2021

21-24 August, 2021

Develop Your Narrative

9-12 June 2021

25-28 August 2021

Three-nights accommodation, two full days practical, hands-on, supported photography tuition – and delicious, home-prepared food in a unique island environment.

THE COURSES: 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. We have two separate courses, the first of which will focus on getting the best from your photography technically to allow you to shoot a short visual story. The second will look at more theoretical, yet practical, ways of enhancing the narrative ideas underpinning your work. Both courses will be hands-on and fully supported, with participants guided in how to take and edit a series of photographs to create a visual story.

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 courses are 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. You will be fully catered for with delicious food, much of it locally-sourced and all freshly prepared.

Practical Storytelling: The first of the two courses is more technical, in the sense that we try to enhance the practical skills of our participants. On the first day we deconstruct what a photograph is, looking at composition, lighting and how to make the best use of the environment you find yourself in to make impactful, interesting and creative images. There’s lots of technical hands-on help so you can develop new skills such as long exposures, silhouettes and portraits. We then move on to looking how this can be built into a series of images which tells a basic story, by thinking through ideas and then going out and illustrating them. The second day is very much about developing and delivering the idea and we look at editing and sequencing, all building towards presenting your photo story to the group. Everything is totally supported and participants can benefit from both Colin’s and Adam’s years of experience and knowledge in practical and hands-on teaching.

Develop Your Narrative: This course, although more theoretical in its foundation, also arrives at the same point as Practical Storytelling: participants will shoot a short visual story, however, we are looking for something more narrative-based for this outcome. On the first day we look, for example, at the way narrative is used in art and photography and at representation. These can be used as the building blocks for participants to put together an idea and illustrate it. Again, we aspire to produce technically good work, therefore you will be advised and supported in areas where we think you could strengthen your practice. At the end of the two days, you will have a story to show and tell.

Both are three night stays on the island. Please get in touch for a more detailed description of what we can offer on each respective course and how to book on.

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

“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 her/his 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.

“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

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.

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.
All your 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 freshly-prepared lunch, consisting of soup, sandwiches and salad on each of two full days of the course. Home cooked evening meals, which will be served in one of the cottages to allow everyone to eat together. 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.
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.

“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

Meet the tutors…

Colin McPherson – www.colinmcpherson.com
Born in Edinburgh, Colin McPherson has been photographing at home and abroad for a three decades. 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 latest exhibition of work made on Easdale island was shown at five venues across Scotland and England in 2019. Like fellow tutor Adam Lee, he is a member of the SixBySix photography collective, based on Merseyside.

Adam Lee – www.adamleephotography.com
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.

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

Check out some of the work made on our courses on this participant portfolio page.




Photography courses 2018

Following the success of the two short photography courses hosted on Easdale island by Colin McPherson and Adam Lee in September 2016, we had hoped to be able to bring you news of more of the same for this year.

What we didn’t expect was that Colin McPherson was going to be awarded a major contract photographing across the world through most of 2017 and the first part of the following year. This has meant we will be able to run anything until autumn 2018, but we will make an announcement of dates and programmes for 2018 as soon as we can.

In the meantime, please keep in touch and let us know if you are interested in participating. Easdale offers a wonderful environment to look, listen and learn and be inspired by the people and environment around you.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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. Read More …