Richard Gaston records nature the way he sees it—an escapist dream right here on earth.
“We cannot accept submissions from professional photographers,” says an email from a photo blog manager. It is a pleasant surprise to Richard Gaston, who considers his title “open to interpretation.” He thinks of photography as more than just a calling-card credential. It is a point of view. In great ways, the camera is a tool for exploring what is important. Gaston himself combs through natural landscapes for meaningful images. What he finds in white-capped mountains and forests the nine-to-five life cannot match. Enter Gaston’s energy for backpacking and trekking.
Gaston is based in Glasgow, Scotland. Photography is his escape from the concrete fence of the city. He chooses its antithesis: the snow sheath of the Scottish Highlands. The very appeal of winter is its force. The thick blanket of white adds drama. In photographs especially, it suggests extreme conditions. Gaston once faced such hazards. He shares, “I descended on the wrong face of the mountain in whiteout conditions which added several hours to my route in pitch darkness.”
In these trips, he has to haul a backpack that includes a heavy camera kit, a tent, cooking paraphernalia and change of clothes. The weight is a necessity, and is in great ways an added layer of risk. So he now takes more time researching the terrain. It is a two-in-one preparation that prevents hurdles and “guarantees some imagery.”
Gaston has a minimalist aesthetic. He hardly comes to the peak of a mountain guided by a fixed concept. He even admits that “the experience comes before the photograph.” The bare sight and chill of the expanse is his first priority. Photography is the final touch, the bonus that makes the experience ready to share. When he comes home with a solid set of pictures, that is when the concept emerges. His series Island, Highland and Whiteland present a pattern of solace and awe. Small figures—his friends in adventure—are on pause amid an empire of snow or a vast forest. It is what he calls “the feeling of insignificance,” of being a tiny part of a big, thoroughly impressive world.
“I’d like to think that my work has had an impact on an individual who works a nine-to-five office job and has been aiming to travel for a while and now realise how possible it is,” shares Gaston. “I have come to the conclusion that I am not inspired by cities but only by organic landscapes.”
Gaston has recently co-founded the photo collective Point Five Studios with adventure photographer David Cooper. This summer they will hold an opening exhibition to coincide with their website launch. He also plans to try the Soviet intelligence camera Zenit MF-1 as an alternative to the Diana Mini, which yields “interesting effects that are hard to achieve in digital photography.”
All photographs provided by the artist. To learn more, visit Richard Gaston's website.