Great Photographers of the Mountains No. 3:
This is a bit of a novelty to me this prose business. Usually when I bring out my biennial Colin Baxter's Scotland I employ some half baked journalist to pad it out with "Ben Nevis, brooding as ever in the mist..." type crap. The Colin Baxter Playing Cards of course require no text at all and the calendars only need a re-permutation of that Monday 1, Tuesday 2 type stuff. However on with the story. And my story, like many before me - Pete Townsend, Mick Jagger, Brian Ferry, Muriel Gray, Ronnie Brown... begins at art school. I had harboured notions of being an impressionist painter, and was told I showed some promise. Then I realised you could create an impressionistic landscape in 1/500 of a second with a box of filters and half a jar of vaseline. None of that hanging about on the banks of the Seine for 3 weeks for the big man. Starving in a garret, getting interrupted every half hour by existentialists wanting to debate the meaning of life with you. No for me it's drive up the glen in your Range Rover, wait for the mist - usually it's there anyway - Kodachrome ASA 64 at f2.8 and 1/500. Back to the B&B in time for tea.
It is often said I revolutionised photography of the Scottish landscape. OK mea culpa. To be fair and modest, though, until I came along there was only J Arthur Dixon with his blue skies and cotton wool clouds and "how green was my shieling" approach. Of course there was the gritty expressionism of J Campbell Kerr - ironically best known for his covers of The People's Friend. When I was at Art School, funnily enough a good friend took out a subscription to this crusading journal, thinking it to be of the Marxist-Leninist variety. He got rather a shock. But the Friend does take a tilt at the windmills in the shape of JCK's illustrations. His Cartier-Bressonesque statement is of course in ironic contrast with the sub-Marquez magic realism of the prose found inside.
It is often said to me that you can't actually recognise any mountains from my photos. "Good", say I. My pictures are a distillation of the day and the light and the weather. Whether the mountain is recognisable does not get onto the drawing board if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor. The mountains all look the same anyway don't they ?
Another question often asked of me is why don't you illustrate the game soup tins of the family firm? Well like our recipes, the wee painting on the tins has stood the test of time and the old adage if it ain't broke don't fix it applies. The uncanny resemblance of our logo to the Landseer Monarch painting is probably part of the success of our quaint but best selling range. My brother "Slim" Jim is destined to take over the fine foods business after half a lifetime of experimenting with fine drink.
Wildlife is still a bit of an untouched area for me. I do have a couple of seals and a toucan in my post card range. (Check out that toucan bit for me. They all look the same to me these seagulls.)
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