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Reaching the final three in the coveted title of Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year 2021 was the culmination of a lifetime love of the outdoors for Argyll photographer Marc Pickering.
Now he features on the popular View Finders podcast in an hour-long interview explaining how his job, his passion for Argyll’s scenery and a childhood spent constantly outdoors led him to award-winning success and commissions with Maserati and Amazon Prime.
Marc works full-time in the forests of Argyll as a works supervisor for Forestry and Land Scotland, describing it as ‘an ideal career for me when I love the great outdoors so much’.
Speaking on the January 27 podcast, Marc explained: ‘Working outside for 14 years is really helpful for my photography as you get to know the weather so you can see the weather coming in; you can tell when the light is going to break through the clouds.
‘It has always cracked my partner and my friends up that I can say it’s going to start raining in half an hour and half an hour later it starts raining. It’s just something you get in tune with and it definitely helps a lot with landscape photography.’
Marc described his home county to the podcast’s listeners by saying: ‘Argyll can be hit and miss when storms come in; we get astounding colours. It’s a lovely place. It’s us, next stop Jura and then America.
‘We’re exposed to all weathers, mainly westerlies, but get the cold weather from the east too. It’s a good place to be out experiencing all the elements.
‘I feel Argyll is overlooked because we’re surrounded by all the famous, beautiful places and people travel past here to get to the islands, but they rarely stop off.’
The photograph that won Marc third place in the prestigious award in 2021 should help put Argyll on the map as it is an atmospheric shot of Loch Ederline on the road from Lochgilphead to Oban. Entitled First Light, the winning picture was of a landscape very familiar to Marc.
‘I pass the loch every day on my commute to work and it’s one of the most picturesque little lochs in the area,’ he said.
‘It always catches my eye; it’s always got different light on it, particularly on the nice misty mornings we generally get here. Loch Ederline encapsulates what I feel and love about the landscape around here. It’s got everything I love about the area.’
Much as he loves his local landscape, Marc has travelled far and wide in pursuit of the perfect shot. He spent four nights alone in the Arctic Circle, travelling on-foot in search of a great photograph.
‘To get to the Arctic Circle I took a train and ferry from where my family live in Norway and spent four days hiking around there on my own,’ he said.
‘I couldn’t afford to rent a car so I walked everywhere and am happy I did as I got the most mind-blowing sunrise you’ve ever seen. It’s a memory that will stay with me forever.’
Not all Marc’s work involves extreme expeditions in harsh weather. He was recently surprised and delighted to be offered a commission from luxury car-maker Maserati.
‘One day I was at work and I got one of the most random and exciting emails I’ve had popping through my phone,’ he explained.
‘I was sitting on my tea-break out in the forest when I got an email. When I first read it I thought it’s probably spam, but Maserati had come across my Instagram account and liked my landscape photography. They had their new models out and were coming up to do the North Coast 500 and wanted someone to capture images of the cars in that landscape.
‘They asked if I wanted to do it. After about a second of thinking, I said yes. It was a three-day shoot and I got to drive the car to the location and basically it was about trying to get the mood of Scotland with the cars in atmospheric weather.’
When Marc worked for Amazon Prime to promote the Outlander series, his task was to photograph all the Scottish locations used in the series.
Marc explained that working on commissions is different from his usual photography when sometimes it can take him four years of returning to the same spot to get exactly the shot he has in mind.
‘It pushes you to be on it straight away which can be frustrating as I like to wait for the perfect light, but you can’t do that . These commissions aren’t something I actively pursue, but I love challenging myself.’
Marc’s work can be seen on his website: marcpickeringphotography.uk and his podcast interview can be found on viewfinderslive.com.