Visiting the Scottish Highlands with Richard Gaston

Richard gaston wearing m/s backpack

Richard Gaston belongs to a new generation photographers, seeking back to the roots of exploration and finding inspiration in the nature surrounding them. For documentation of his excellent eye and photographic skills just swing by his Instagram account @richardgaston for a dose of magical, breathtaking landscapes of Scotland and beyond. Having previously done features for the likes of Kinfolk Magazine, Wallpaper and Huffington Posts, he recently shot the imagery for the Wild Guide Scotland book in partnership with Kimberley Grant & David Boyson Cooper, in order to fully document the findings on his everyday endeavours. We teamed up with Richard for a quick Q&A on his current projects and went on a field trip in the Scottish highlands in partnership with photographer Rich Stapleton from Cereal Magazine.

The Island of Skye

Could you explain us a bit about how it was to grow up surrounded by this incredible nature?

Having only found my interest in the outdoors late on - only 4 years ago - I was sure to make the most of it, arranging weekly trips with friends to spend time in highlands of Scotland. Fortunately, Scotland is a very accessible country with roads linking all corners and cities being located only a couple of hours from the mountains, therefore we could arrange trips the day before. It became an addictive environment to spend time in. My friends and I vigilantly checking forecasts and time off work to plan another trip back out to where we desired most.
The Island of skye

I really need both aspects to my life, urban and rural. Without either would be difficult. Winter 2015, I removed myself from the rural opportunities and taken to an urban life in Copenhagen. I have concluded that regardless of my urban opportunities, I still crave the exploration aesthetic to my life. Therefore, the location of my residence must be surrounded by nature so it can be easily accessed. Consequently, this mindset took me back to my home in Scotland. Nature can provide more than meets the eye, it provides the opportunity to learn and experience. 

The Island of skye
How does nature inspire you in your daily work?
Initially, the outdoors was a place for spending time either alone or with climbing partners pursuing the sport of mountaineering. Along the way, I built up an archive of imagery which I utilised for personal projects and portfolio. Through the persistent experience photographing in the mountains, I have developed a knowledge and skill base in photography allowing me to become self-taught in the profession. I am now fortunate enough to be able to use the highlands as a place of work, producing photography for various clients in need of outdoor imagery. I will never lose touch with what nature provides to the human mentality, for me that is the foremost important aspect to the outdoors.

Richard gaston wearing m/s backpack
Throughout all my travel endeavours I have been able to develop my photography skill by trial and error. Alongside photography, I have experienced a lot of emotions from stress to overwhelming joy. Mountaineering has played a vital role in this. I have taken on physically and mentally enduring days where I have pushed myself to physical exhaustion, however, my mentality ordered me to continue. I feel this builds a lot of character in an individual, particularly when taking risks that can have potentially devastating effects. Overall, I have come to a conclusion where I would rather risk too much than risk too little.

The Island of skye
What projects are you currently working on?
As of a couple of weeks ago, my long term project (of 18 months) has just been completed and submitted to the editor. Collectively with my aforementioned friends, we have been working on a travel compendium on the outdoors in Scotland covering wild camping, wild swimming, best viewpoints, unique accommodation, all featuring hundreds of ideas for the perfect adventure in the
wilds and wonderlands of Scotland. 'Wild Guide Scotland' is a travel guide with recommended places we have visited ourselves, more accurately 312 locations were photographed and a further 650 were listed as suggestions.
Now that it has been submitted I will continue to develop my personal travel projects and take on more challenging commissions from major fashion labels to lifestyle publications. 

Richard gaston wearing m/s backpack
Any places you'd recommend visiting for the folks with Scotland on their travel agenda? 
The diversity of the landscape is something to solely base a trip on; the rolling landscape in the Cairngorms, crystal clear water overlapping pure white sands in Sutherland, spectacular coastal scenery in the northeast, dramatic mountains of Glencoe, remote mountains standing alone amongst the moors in Assynt or a sailing trip to the westernmost islands in the country, St Kilda which I have to elaborate on due to its specialty. The archipelago is a true gem, although sometimes disregarded by visitors due to its remoteness and difficulty to get to especially being located over 100 miles west of the mainland. Home to the highest sea cliffs in the country and exceptional landscape - arguably some of the finest in the country - it is world widely know for it’s natural and cultural qualities.