5 lessons from the Scottish Portrait Awards

Tonight is the preview of the Scottish Portrait Awards 2019 and the exhibition opens on Saturday 2 November. It feels quite surreal to have one of my images selected as one of the best photographic portraits in the country. My photo is one I took in the sea on the eve of International Women’s Day (7 March) when the sea is at it’s coldest. Adventurer, Lindsey Cole, was cycling into town and a swim had been organised at sunset. It was a stormy day with waves in the normally flat calm of Portobello beach. In those 6 months I’ve learned a lot! Here are my thoughts…

The Eve of Women’s Day : My shortlisted entry into the 2019 Scottish Portrait Awards. Final award is announced on 14 November 2019.

What have I learned along the way?

  1. Enter the competition. Thanks to Hannah of ByMi Origami for needling me on this one. You have to be in it… Don’t automatically count yourself out!

  2. Coworking conversations are not timewasting! - you never know where they are going to go or what ridiculous plans will be made. I love this about Tribe Porty. The whole event came about because Anna Neubert-Wood of WanderWomen had organised a sea swim that evening, Markus Stitz (round the world on a single speed bike) was cycling with Lindsey into Edinburgh that afternoon, and James Robertson offered me his waterproof camera to go into the sea. Say ‘yes' and show up if your gut likes the idea even though there seemed no ‘point’ to it and I had so much admin to do. Which brings me swiftly onto this point:

  3. Be inspired and do stuff even if you don’t know why. Lindsey Cole’s UK spanning trip is a perfect example of this. She cycled all the way up the country to the UK’s winter swimming championships in Loch Tay. Then she continued to the furthest north of the Sheltland Isles and all the way south to the Scilly Isles. Swimming each day with the people she met - forming connections in the sea.

  4. Trust your gut and not the voice in your head. I knew I loved this picture even though… or especially because it’s not in focus. It’s a feeling and a story. Huge thank you to Jenny Kinnear, my elated swimmer, for agreeing to be exhibited.

  5. Do something even though you haven’t fully thought it through: The 60 Days Project. I’ve been photographing a portrait every day for the last 60. Today is my last day! (Though I’m a little further behind on social media so expect posts for the next three weeks. ) I have learned so much (I’ll come to this on a separate blog post) and been able to represent so many gorgeous, rich lives. It’s been a massive undertaking but I’ve loved the daily feedback loop of shooting and editing and posting. I’m still working out what happens with this in future. I’d love to continue but I need to pay my bills too. Want to pay for a portrait session? Email me.

The exhibition- both photography and painting opens to the public from 2-30 November at the Scottish Arts Club (in the west end of Edinburgh):

Edinburgh, Scottish Arts Club, Saturday 2 to Saturday 30 November

Glasgow, Glasgow Art Club, from Thursday 16 January to Saturday 15 February 2020

Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbright Galleries, Saturday 14 March to Sunday 24 May 2020.