Ootlier, noun (Shetland dialect): creatures without a roofed shelter.
Outlier, noun: an observation that is deemed to be unusual because it does not follow the general pattern.
In the dialect of Scotland’s northern isles, an ootlier is a hardy outdoor animal, such as a Shetland sheep, which overwinters outdoors, rather than in a barn. In mathematical and scientific data, an outlier is a value at a distance to the others in a set. Outliers can greatly affect an end result: they are the observations that make a difference to any overall conclusion.
As a photographer, I regard myself an ootlier in both senses: I am an outdoor animal, most often to be found in the landscape in all weathers: up a mountain, in a bog, on a moor, either in my running shoes, or with a camera, or, indeed, sometimes with both. I also think that the role of a good photographer is that of an outlier: not to follow a predictable pattern, but to aim for results that might allow us to see things a little differently.
In my work, I strive to create images that prompt such new perspectives. My work explores how contemporary ways of seeing are constrained by perspectives and conventions. As viewers, we are all used to a single carefully composed scene with deep focus that ensures sharpness throughout—a frozen moment in time. We may not know what we are looking at—or name that device as “the Golden Ratio”—but such unspoken aesthetic and mathematical conventions govern our understanding of place and space, of nature and culture. Photographers thus have a powerful capacity to mediate—and to fix—our ways of seeing, but shouldn’t photography also work to question our perspectives?
I have a Phd in biology, and was a scientist before I made photography my career. I love the technical aspects of my craft, and think my background might tell itself in my fondness for experimentation in my photography.
I live here in Scotland with my wife, Kate, and my dogs, Bruce and Bobby, and enjoy hill running.