Richard Gaston began his self-taught photographic education in the Highlands of Scotland, so it makes sense that his lens focuses perfectly on the magnetic landscape of this place.
The famed romantic poet Robert Burns wrote, “Wherever I wander, wherever I rove / The hills of the Highlands forever I love”, and with its remarkable remote wilderness, it’s easy to see why such declarations of lasting affection were made. Scotland and its islands have been inspiring artists for centuries, and Gaston is no different: “Each region has its own distinct character,” he explains, “rolling hills in the east, barren landscape in the north, dramatic coastlines in the west and shapely peaks throughout the mainland.” ‘Highland’ takes us to the rugged north, and to the heart of Gaston’s landscape photography: “The Highlands are the essence of my personal work and so will remain. No day is the same in the Scottish mountains, the infrequent weather creates a character to the mountain, making each venture unpredictable and surprising.”
Capturing the vastness of the Scottish landscape, Gaston — like the Romantics of the 19th century — takes the epic of nature and recasts it as sublime through his lens. “Throughout my work lies a vast sense of overwhelming, beautiful landscape surrounding the micro aspect of man,” Gaston explains, “conveying just how insignificant we are on this planet.” The smallness of man in relation to the natural world may be apparent in scale, but not in impact. As conversation with Gaston turns to precious and wild places, he reminds us of the impact that man has on the land and the ways in which we should give back to the environment: “I feel the major issue here isn’t the overrunning of areas, but the lack of respect that is shown to them. This could certainly be improved. Not always taking from nature, but giving back — regenerating vegetation, cleaning up the mess and spreading awareness on the impact of the human footprint…At the end of the day, it is everyone’s responsibility to look after our planet.”
Gaston’s Wild Guide Scotland was published on May 1, and can be purchased online here.