Colin Prior

Colin Prior

A photographer renowned for his landscapes of the Highlands has received this year’s Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.

Colin Prior is famed for his panoramic shots of the Scottish mountains.

Previous recipients of the accolade include Andy Nisbet, Dr Adam Watson, Jimmy Marshall, Myrtle Simpson, Ian Sykes, Dr Hamish MacInnes and Cameron McNeish.

Prior will receive his award during the upcoming Fort William Mountain Festival.

Rod Pashley, chairman of the Highland Mountain Culture Association, organisers of the festival, said: “You’ve only got to look at the breadth of stunning landscape work that Colin has produced over the years to know the visual impact he has made on so many who love and admire our Scottish landscapes and beyond.

“Colin’s work graces the walls of so many of our homes and allows us to feel and be a part of the outdoors where perhaps some are unable to go or once visited. We’re proud to welcome Colin into the festival ambassador hall of fame family.”

Organisers of the award said: “As a visionary of landscape photography in Scotland whose work has been showcased all over the world, Colin Prior is an artist and technician who expertly creates the illusion of three dimensionality in two dimensional images.

“His majestic photographs of the hugely iconic Scottish mountains capture sublime moments of light, colour and land. They are also the result of meticulous research, planning, preparation and skill, often involving repeated trips to the most inaccessible locations for the precise moment when weather and light conditions perfectly combine at the ‘golden hour’ of dawn or dusk.”

Colin Prior said of his photography: “To know a mountain is to understand its rhythms and then become part of them.

“To photograph mountains successfully demands what the Arctic Inuit refer to as ‘quinuituq’ which translated means ‘deep patience’ – literally waiting hours for one second, or in my case, years for one second.”

Prior was born in Milngavie, in 1958, and discovered photography at the age of 23 through a fascination with the natural world. Having very little photography experience, he created a portfolio of images of Scotland’s coastline and the Red Sea. He won the ‘best newcomer to underwater photography’ prize in the Camera Beneath the Waves competition in 1981.

Working at the time as an operations manager this recognition was the catalyst that changed his life. Following a stint on a North Sea oil platform as a photo-technician, he then worked as a commercial photographer with advertising and design agencies for clients in the travel, lifestyle, and leisure sectors and helped to establish his reputation.

In the mid-90s, he was commissioned by British Airways to photograph four corporate calendars with briefs that took him around the world many times.

The commercial work allowed him the freedom to pursue personal projects. Concentrating almost exclusively on the panoramic format, Colin Prior set out to photograph Scotland’s wild places in what he believed would be a new and visually exciting way.

Since then he has produced seven books. His current project Fragile is an exploration into the habitats of wild birds and their vulnerability to change.

Julia Stoddart, chief operating officer of Jahama Highland Estates, sponsors of the award, said: “Colin’s passion for the mountains and his dedication to his art is exceptional, making him a worthy recipient of this award.”

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