I wanted to write a few thoughts on safety on photography workshops in winter in Scotland and how I approach this within Quiet Landscapes.
Scotland is beautiful, and never more so than in the winter months. The light is low, the ever-changing skies can be simply glorious. The weather brings with it conditions that make landscape photography very appealing. I often shoot in wild conditions, where storms and heavy swells bring the waves and great light.
Like most human beings, I do have thresholds. As much as I enjoy the outdoors, I also love getting back in. Getting warm and dry and being cosy by my fire! I also hate wet feet more than anything and I get tired as easily as anyone else.
Empathy is at the core of what I do. A basic understanding of each and every participant’s needs and wants and fluid response to that during the retreat. My aim to get an understanding of who you are before you even arrive and during the retreat, adapt and listen whenever needed. At the end of the day, it is your holiday and you have invested in joining us. My aim is that you enjoy every minute of it.
So coming back to safety on photography workshops. It is a high priority on my part. I have dynamic risk assessments for every location on my list. Each location is planned, known and thought about; from distance and length of walk to facilities close by and underfoot conditions. I have a long list of locations which will be flexible according to group ability and weather forecasts.
When there are two tutors it also becomes easier to split up if there are mixed abilities and indeed, mixed desires.
I take a long time to get to know the areas that I work in, in order to understand the wave and sea swells patterns, how wind affects the area and slippery conditions. I am trained in first aid and a qualified outdoor lifeguard. We also carry first aid equipment in the field.
But more than any of these basics, I listen and pick up when people are uncomfortable, cold or just want to have a warm cup of coffee. This is something there is no training for!
Although you are going to the very north of Scotland in the winter months, safety is important. Your comfort and happiness is an equally big consideration!