Morag Paterson

Tell us about yourself.
I’m Morag Paterson. I’m 39 years old, a mother of two boys, and a landscape photographer based in southwest Scotland, originally from Aberdeen.  I became a photographer after meeting my husband, Ted Leeming. We now collaborate on most of our projects.

What is beauty to you and how do you define beauty?
That’s a tough one, and I guess the saying that it is in the eye of the beholder is true.  It that beholder is me, then I usually find beauty in nature, whether that be a beautiful plant, tree, stretch of water, mountain, shaft of light or pebble, although occasionally I do find it in man-made articles too.  If I had to define beauty, then it’s something that initiates a feeling of pleasure simply by being viewed, listened too, or felt  (without contact).

What’s the story behind your first camera?
I had a disc camera when I was a kid, I loved the little round device with the negatives on.

Digital or film? Why?
I use digital and although I fully understand and appreciate the capabilities and quality of film cameras, I don’t think I’d go there as I tend to be very experimental with my work. It would be hard to achieve this without a LCD for reviewing ideas in the field.

What role does color play in your work?
Color is fairly important, although I do also work with black and white and also very muted, low contrast images – de-saturating colors at times if I find them overpowering.  In our “Impressions” work the colour was more important alongside texture and form.

If you didn’t pursue photography, what alternative career path would you have taken?
Before becoming a photographer I had a small hand-made soap company and was also a competitive axe thrower, so maybe one of those.

In some of your images, the subjects are intentionally blurry. What is the concept behind this captured motion?
It’s an extension of our desire to capture the soul or sense of a subject and by obscuring the detail and taking away the obvious subject matter, it’s possible for people to make their own interpretation of what they are looking at.

Tell us about “Zero Footprint”.
Zero Footprint is a portfolio of work where the images have all been taken from exactly the same location over a period of three and a half years so far (and counting).  Only the location is restricted, we can shoot in any direction, with any camera, any lens.  The idea was to create a body of work with no carbon footprint as far as travelling to locations was concerned.  The first few years focused on wider landscapes but we recently created a set focusing on the local bird life.

Where are the landscapes from “Zero Footprint”  shot?
Right outside our studio door, in southwest Scotland

“Impressions” (1, 2, 3, 4) is a beautifully abstract series. What is the creative process behind this series? How do you achieve such soft lines and hues?
We use camera movement to blur whatever the subject matter is, and the fact that you have different areas of light and color crossing over each other is what creates the soft colors and lines.  Occasionally if you are shooting something very bright, the colors can also appear incredibly vivid.

You currently reside in Southern Scotland. How does your environment affect and influence your photography?
We’re very privileged to live in such a beautiful and unspoiled place – we deliberately built our house and studio overlooking a fantastic vista.  It’s impossible not to be inspired with constantly changing skies and weather conditions and something interesting everywhere you look.

What are some memorable portraits and images? Why?
We don’t really work with portraiture at all, but in terms of images one of my favourites is Lilies I – it’s one of the few photos I’ve taken indoors. I’ve tried repeatedly to develop and continue what I’ve done there but have never been able to recreate the colors and affects I achieved in the first batch – so that’s an ongoing challenge.  Another memorable one is “Source I” – I love getting close up to water with a macro lens, and I find it bizarre that although I’m afraid of heights, I was hanging on by my toes to the top of a waterfall for about an hour without even thinking about it to get this shot.

What equipment do you currently use?
Canon 1Ds Mark III camera, Gitzo tripod, Lee Filters and a variety of lenses.

Who and what inspire you?
I really like the work of Jan Tove as far as other photographers/artists go, my new favourite writer is [Guy de] Maupassant, having just discovered him.

What songs are on your personal playlist?
East Jesus Nowhere / Green Day
Bohemian Like You / Dandy Warhols
Luz Aeterna / Clint Mansell
Mr. Brightside / The Killers
Flashing Lights / Chase and Status
Learning to Fly / Pink Floyd
Rude Boy / Zeds Dead
Sludge / Ed Solo
Fasten Your Seatbelt / Pendulum
4×4 Bassline / Jim B Markham
Down with the Trumpets / Rizzle Kicks
This Corrosion / Sisters of Mercy
Rollin / Limp Bizkit
Out ta Get Me / Guns n Roses
Messed Up / Culture Shock
Needle Gun / Hawkwind

What are three things most people don’t know about you?
If I told you, then everyone would know!  Seriously though, I don’t think I have any secrets. My Facebook account doesn’t allow for it.


For more of Morag’s work, check out her website.