Participant portfolio

Sue MacDougall

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 your 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 images © Sue MacDougall, 2019 all rights reserved.