Nestled in the majestic landscape of Glen Coe, Sarah (who would be shooting on my behalf) and I had spent the morning watching the ever-beautiful but angry weather of the Scottish Highlands charge through the rugged terrain. Storm Kathleen had arrived, bringing with her 60mph gusts and sudden bursts of horizontal rain that threatened to make our afternoon difficult. The shoot was for Speyside-based whisky distiller Aberlour, who had asked me to create some lifestyle-focused content showing candid and real social scenes with people enjoying a dram. Capturing an outdoor scene with the beautiful backdrop of the Scottish Highlands was the original plan. However, as is often the case when your office is a long-wheel-based van and your photography studio is the great outdoors, you have to learn to adapt and adjust. Armed with a steaming coffee, I stepped out into the elements to assess the situation. It was immediately clear that any exposure at all would be almost impossible to shoot in—with my hair and clothes pinned back and gusts bullying me in every direction. Looking across the open moorland, I spotted an opportunity in an outcrop of trees set above a gentle slope down to the river, offering a great, and importantly sheltered, view down the valley.

The location was decided, and with the arrival of a new friend, Paul, who was joining me as the talent for the shoot, we set off in the direction of the trees, bracing against the chilly breeze. The first area we focused on was in the wind-protected region just below the trees, and with the impressive Buachaille Etive Mòr towering in the distance, we began shooting in relative comfort. Finding this pocket of calm conditions was great for allowing a little more variety in the content, enabling us to shoot in the open air, with wide scenes capturing the environment.

We filmed the first short video of Paul and me walking to a rocky outcrop overlooking the landscape, pouring a whisky, and sitting down to chat and enjoy the view. After a successful review gathered around the back of the camera, we repeated the scene again, this time focusing on images, pulling out key moments and getting some extra product shots.

On the edge of the cluster of trees was an obvious wide opening, where a few trees downed in a previous storm created a viewing window out over Glen Coe. Finding one of the felled birches still in good condition, I laid it to rest across some tree stumps, creating a bench and the perfect place for our second scene. Repeating the previous approach, we captured another short film, rotating Paul’s and my roles for some diversity in content, and then worked to complete the day with another round of photographs.

Using the client’s mood board and example images to create a look and feel for the shoot helped bring everything together in a cohesive and appealing way. Inspired by this, I went with casual clothes that hinted towards the outdoors, pairing their colours with those of the Aberlour bottle and the surrounding landscape. I believe this subtle use of complementary colours creates an underlying natural feel but still allows the product and content to shine. Bringing the images and video to life with an earthy, outdoor, and warm grade, I aimed to lean into the rich orange hues associated with whisky, creating some great outcomes to suit the brief.

Overcoming the adversity of the classic Scottish weather added to the increased satisfaction with the project and serves as a great reminder to always be willing to adapt and change on the way to the end goal.

Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress