Research – Sophie Gerrard


This photo was taken using available light, the lack of flash results in a soft image.  The light appears to be coming from somewhere behind the photographer, perhaps from a window or an open door. The aperture used is fairly large, however the subject in the background is only slightly out of focus, so perhaps an aperture of around f/8? screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-20-45-37screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-20-46-04screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-20-46-18screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-20-46-39screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-20-46-53

This photograph works well because the woman and her cows have been framed by the hills in the background. This draws the viewers attention to the subjects of the photo, whilst also providing context of the location. screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-20-47-14


Sophie Gerrard is a Scottish documentary photographer, born in 1978. She studied photography at Edinburgh College of Art, followed by an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary photography at London College of Communication.

The first set of photographs by Sophie Gerrard that I discovered were in her series ‘Drawn To The Land’, describes as ‘ongoing and exploratory project which takes an intimate look at the contemporary Scottish landscape through the eyes of the women who are working, forming and shaping it’.

Taken from a Telegraph article:

“Since January 2013, Gerrard has travelled from the Scottish Borders to Perthshire, and farther north to Argyll and Bute, where she crossed to Mull. For the first time in her own country she was at the mercy of what Shepherd called “the elementals”. Though she is quick to say her temporary experience was nothing compared to the often austere lives of the farmers, she found herself tramping up Munros, sleeping alone in her car on remote tracks, as well as enduring rough winter ferry crossings.

The resulting photographs pay close attention to light, texture, form and colour. They show a landscape shaped millennia ago, yet embracing technological development. Mary McCall Smith, whose family has managed Connachan Farm in Perthshire for over a century, voices a feeling of duty rather than ownership that is prevalent among all the women featured in Drawn to the Land: “I see myself as a custodian of this place during my lifetime. I feel I have a moral obligation to leave it as good if not better than when I came here,” she says.

Framed family photographs and leather-bound photo albums offer a thread of memory through the generations, yet the women are tied to the land by something stronger, yet invisible to the eye. Lorraine Luescher, who farms land in the Borders, tells of how her “hefted” flock – meaning the sheep have been bred in the same place for centuries – instinctively “know” the land through their ancient bloodlines.

In walking with the farmers to the highest point on the land they tend, Gerrard has been able to capture both the majesty of the landscape and its humbling effect. She is photographing permanence and transience at once, as encapsulated in the bleak beauty of the image of sheep and wind turbines. “This image is laden with context,” says Gerrard. ‘The turbines are hugely contentious, as is the strip of forestry in the background – effectively a monoculture – and even the effect of sheep farming on a landscape is controversial. If you dig a little below the surface, the question of who owns the land in Scotland provokes extraordinary polemic!”





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