Exploring through Photography: An Interview with Richard Gaston
We recently got together with Richard Gaston, a 26-year-old, self-taught photographer from Glasgow, Scotland. He mainly shoots landscapes, and combines his passion for mountaineering with photography. He has also been involved in travel writing, and is the author of a travel guide to Scotland, “Wild Guide Scotland”, where he has divulged Scotland’s best kept secrets and sites. Gaston attempts to balance work life with hobbies, in the past being involved in fashion photography.
In the photo: Wet West Coast. Photo credit: Richard Gaston.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your passions.
I’m a self-taught photographer from Scotland with a passion for mountaineering and of course, photography. I am also a travel writer and have recently completed my first book, Wild Guide Scotland – a travel compendium about the wilds of Scotland, which in all took two years to complete. The book explores every corner of the highlands and the majority of the islands. In addition, I am an avid follower of fashion and like to balance my life with contrasting hobbies, fashion and the outdoors, combining them when possible.
How long have you been a photographer?
In the photo: Cairn Toul. Photo credit: Richard Gaston.
I started shooting when I was 18 on an old 35mm camera. This soon developed into a career 6 years on where I began to take on commissions and consequently upgraded my equipment to a more professional set up – it has been my full-time job ever since. In the meantime, I studied Social Work for 7 years but discovered that photography was what I desired most.
Who do you hope to reach through your work? Is there anything in particular you are striving to achieve through it?
I always wanted explore a creative field yet never really found my calling until I discovered photography. I learnt that I was a visual learner and communicator and a perfectionist – appreciating the finer details – so this career path lead to an enriching prospect and one which I felt rewarded, hence this is why I still feel the same emotions I did when I first began taking photos.
In the photo: Smoo Cave. Photo credit: Richard Gaston.
I like to think that my published work is a clear representation of myself as a person, through the message of colour, composition and passion. I want to convey the effort that has been carried out in order to obtain such imagery and to influence others into pursuing what makes them happy. A position that is not easy to achieve, but if you want it enough it will happen through persistent hard work.
Walk me through the logistics behind capturing one of your pieces, where does your inspiration come from?
It all begins with my passion for photography and chasing the feeling of capturing new content, this comes through the effort of preparation, patience and execution.
Research online combined with general knowledge of the landscape is the first stage. Understanding where I can achieve new content by researching the topography of the land. Then keeping a vigilant eye on a suitable weather forecast.
In the photo: Lichtenstein. Photo Credit: Richard Gaston.
Once the ideal conditions occur, I organise travel, equipment and begin the journey to the Highlands. This journey usually consists of camping in the mountains and hiking for hours in sometimes adverse weather however the outcomes are often worthy.
What is an area of photography that you would be most interested in exploring?
Currently landscape, there is a sheer abundance of resources in Scotland and in the surrounding countries such as Iceland and Faroe Islands. However I would like to later explore architecture. It is an exciting prospect to create composition from a fixed subject, very similar to landscape photography but doesn’t require stupendous efforts to capture content but is just as challenging in other aspects.
In the photo: Iceland. Photo credit: Richard Gaston.
Would you say that your artistic sense stands out in the industry? Why?
To a certain degree, I’d like to think so. There are a lot of landscape photographers following a similar path currently, although they lack in a unique aesthetic. That is not to say that my style is one of a kind, but there is a sub-category of similar artists who pursue a comparable aesthetic to my own. An aesthetic which evolves around the concept of contemporary landscape photography – with editing style, composition and visiting lesser known locations being the paramount themes.
You have a significant presence on social media platforms, especially Instagram. How would you say social media has helped you to succeed?
In the photo: St. Kilda. Photo Credit: Richard Gaston.
Consistency is a major factor to success on Instagram. Allowing a specific demographic to develop through the process of similar work. If this were to be combined with various types of content, then the audience may lose interest, hence the importance to follow one particular theme.
Have you witnessed any seemingly promising trends currently emerging in the photography scene?
Absolutely, especially in the field of nature photography with younger adults. With the ever greater accessibility of the world and ever-developing mobile technology, it is so simple to jump on board the photography field. This has positives and negatives, it dilutes the market and causes issues for those trying to earn a living in photography. However it is also amazing to be able to grasp onto a profession so quickly and develop a career from a passionate hobby.
How would you say your audience is influenced by your work?
I hope that my work influences the viewer to pursue a similar path to mine; working hard to follow a passion regardless if it is not the most economic decision.
In addition, I’d like to think that my social media presence has a function in finding new locations to visit in Scotland.
In the photo: Stob Bàn. Photo Credit: Richard Gaston.
What is next for your photography in the coming years?
Currently I’m in the finishing stages of promoting my new book, so once all of that has moved over and concluded I intend to focus more on personal work, as the majority of my time was previously focussed on the aforementioned project. So I am looking to continue my on-going personal series and visit every corner of the mainland and every island of Scotland. Moreover, to visit overseas would be a grand addition as well; perhaps New Zealand or Patagonia and finally, I intend to build on local and overseas commissions.