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On Friday, someone who’d looked up my blog asked me why I stopped being a professional photographer and ended up a television producer. I’ve been asked that question many times and it always seems loaded, like there is a judgment in the question. My offpat answer has always been that I got lonely as a snapper in the Highlands and Islands.
Inspired by the question, I picked these pictures to illustrate the idea of my romantic isolation and then realized that apart from the canal picture, the other two are actually collaborations. The picture of Malcy Maclean on the beach was a joint project with his national Gaelic arts project in the 80′s. We made a series of posters attempting to highlight the perilous state of the Gaelic language at that time in Scotland.
The images of the Burka clad women in Kabul Market was taken for another collaboration. This time with writer Henry Naylor, when we produced a play called ‘Finding Bin Laden‘ (starring Nina Conti and Dave Lamb, now better known as Mr Come Dine With Me) at the Edinburgh Festival to draw attention to the conspiracy between the military and the media in Afghanistan in 2003.
So it seems that even as a photographer I’ve been drawn to working with others to create images and longer-form narratives. Looking back, the move into television – the business, the teams, the way moving images and words come together in scenes, shows and series – was inevitable but there is nagging doubt that I have betrayed a true love.
I’m watching Boys and Girls Alone on Channel 4. It’s about a hand picked gangle of 8 -11 year old kids, forced to live on their own in a Sussex reversion of ‘Lord of the Flies’ – but with girls, for god’s sake.
It made me laugh and occasionally made good comment on our younger generation, and their very confused parents.
But it also made me think how lucky these kids are compared with some children of the same age I met in Afghanistan. The child above has polio, and those below have had their legs blown off by landmines.
Kabul is surrounded by mountains. One of the ways into Kabul is over this mountain, where the communications and radio masts sit. Also on top of the mountain were trenches used during the long-running civil war.
This man was guarding the access to the masts on the summit of the mountain.
The startling sculpture consists of four anti-aircraft missiles, one anti-tank missile and several mortar shells.
Henry was writing a play called ‘Finding Bin Laden‘ about the recent events in Afghanistan and the way the media and military worked together to tell us something that we suspected may have been far from the truth.
This is the main market in Kabul. The photo was taken on a Saturday morning. Burkas were available for $10. Our fixer told us he could recognise his mother in a burka across a crowded marketplace.