In the spotlight: Richard Gaston
If you’ve never been to the Scottish Highlands, Richard Gaston work is going to have a particularly emphatic effect. Even if you’re a regular in this northwestern region of Scotland, his fine art photography will stand out for its clean and simple style. Gaston’s work takes this approach — free of noise, intentional in composition — for good reason. He wants the subjects of his imagery to be clearly distinguished, be it a sheet of sunlight on a towering mountain peak or a wind-swept horse.
This also takes a considerable amount of patience — finding his subject is among the more time-consuming elements of Gaston’s process. And yet, that very same process has helped to not only hone in on whatever subject he’s chosen for an image, it’s also allowed for a more diversified set of photographic skills. One of those was that of fashion photography: his first break into craft involved a “blind email” to famed Danish brand Norse Projects wherein he’d attached photos taken of his friend in their clothing — he impressed them enough to earn an internship.
We tracked Richard down for a quick chat and asked him more about the background to his inspiring works...
How did your photographic career begin?
I began with a 35mm film camera, taking portraits and landscapes for personal work. This continued for many years until I began to pick up more commissions. I worked part time in a retail store, taking irregular photography jobs when they came in, until I decided to leave my job and move to Copenhagen for a photography internship with a fashion company, Norse Projects. I learnt the majority of my skills here and came back to Scotland to work on a travel guide book to Scotland. This was a two year project which visited every corner of the country, named Wild Guide Scotland. Commission work became more regular, so I decided to go full time freelance which is how I am currently situated today.
Describe your first break.
When I threw a blind email out to my favourite company at the time, Norse Projects, containing images I had taken of my friend in their clothing which they returned with a positive email saying they would like to use the images in their visual assets. This was a defining moment in my career. The motivation and excitement I experienced was unparalleled and still encourages me to this day.
Where were you first published?
Wallpaper* Handmade 2015
What work are you most proud of?
My ‘Glas-allt-Shiel’ project, a series documenting the same location over the four seasons of the year, converting the impact the change has on the landscape.
What advice would you give younger photographers?
Explore various subjects to photograph until you discover which inspires you the most. Immerse yourself in this chosen shubject - consistency is fundamental to success.
What is the favourite part of your job?
Exploring parts of the world I wouldn't normally visit, the people I meet who teach me new and interesting things and the never ending positive emotions I feel when taking photos.
Where do you live? What do you love about it?
Glasgow. It’s accessibility to the Highlands and thriving young city with great people.
What are your biggest challenges?
Commiting to several hours of driving into the Highlands, then hiking several hours into remote areas with heavy equipment, hoping the weather forecast is accurate.
Any bad moments on a shoot?!
Dropping an expensive lens into a pond after deciding it was worth the effort to take a mediocre photo, or sliding on my bum across a narrow mountain ridge, covered in melting snow when I forgot my crampons.
What is your favourite night of the week? Your favourite season?
Sunday and Winter.
What do you want to accomplish that you haven’t already?
Explore Antarctica, photograph a Polar Bear and own a home in the Highlands.
Describe the best party you have ever been to.
New Years Eve in a wooden cabin in the Highlands of Scotland with a mix of my closest friends and people I hadn't met before, where I first met my current partner.
What are your favourite things to do on a Sunday?
Being in the Highlands, taking photos, climbing mountains or camping, or if I’m at home; run, walk my dog, edit photos, listen to radio, make food and watch football.