“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.” I remembered reading this in a magazine clothing advert somewhere – probably Backpacker, Outside or National Geographic Adventure. Steph (at the time my long distance girlfriend, now my wife) wasn’t impressed with my ability to remember random advertising tag lines. It was a bit of a dickish thing to say I suppose, given that she was getting soaked to the bone in the cold rain, but I honestly couldn’t for the life of me figure out how anyone from Scotland could not own any rain gear. It’s been known to rain a bit here!
This was November of 2007 and I was on my inaugural visit to Scotland. From my first glimpse out the plane window on the approach to Aberdeen I was utterly enamored with the place. Cliffs rose up from the North Sea and merged into the greenest rolling hills and darkest forests imaginable, all bisected by stone fences and dotted with sheep. A fine mist and fog hung over everything, lending an eerie and ancient ambiance to an already eerie and ancient landscape. The towns and villages visible from the flight path were all tidily arranged and well defined entities (a lesser man might have said quaint just then), as opposed to the mindless and inefficient sprawl of the states. I was still a few thousand feet above the ground but already I felt at home.
To be sure I was coming at Aberdeen with some seriously thick rose coloured glasses on – thick like old school Coke bottles, and with glacier-goggle style blinders on the sides. For the next few weeks I was caught in a perfect storm of jet lag, sleep deprivation and young love. For once my inner critic was silent.
Four years and seven more visits later (you’re welcome Delta/KLM) and Aberdeen is officially my home. These days the only glasses I wear are made by Oakley, and rose coloured they ain’t – I see every piece of dog shit, gum and rubbish left on the pavement (sidewalk in Americaneze); every vacant storefront and grimy block of granite on Union Street; every run down, woefully uninspired group of council flats and every desperate beggar spitefully ignored by the trendy shopping masses.
Being an outsider I must confess to feeling the slightest hint of trepidation with regards to photographing and writing about Aberdeen (and beyond) in anything but a flattering light. British culture places a high premium on politeness, and it’s easy to see how some might consider the critical musings of an immigrant to be profoundly rude. It is not, however, my intention to only point out and dwell exclusively upon the negative: quite the contrary in fact, as I have plenty of nice things to say about Aberdeen and Scotland. My wife and I choose to live here after all. Ruder still, I believe, would be if I were anything less than honest in what I present here.
So off I go – camera in hand and with senses wide open – in search not so much of answers, but rather interesting questions. If you have questions or suggestions for me, by all means please leave a comment below. I would love for this space to become a swanky hub of photography and social commentary chat. Or you can just call me an arrogant, condescending prick who should mind his own business and leave it at that – so long as you’re honest I’m cool with it.
Oh, and for those who may have been wondering……Steph now has both winter-weight and lightweight waterproof jackets, a pair of waterproof trousers and proper Gore-Tex hiking boots. Cause, you know, it does rain here a lot!