By John MacLean, 11/05/15:
There has been an amazing rise in the number of tourists visiting the Western Isles/Outer Hebrides in the past few years. A large part of this surge surely is a result of the dramatic reduction in ferry fares following the introduction of RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) by the Scottish Government several years ago. Things are going to get even better for islanders and visitors alike later in 2015, when RET is extended to (among others) the Sound of Harris and Sound of Barra CalMac ferry routes, cutting fares by about 44%/55% for passengers/cars.
Another explanation for the increase in visitor numbers, and one which I see much evidence of as I travel round the Hebrides as a working photographer, is the amount and standard of accommodation now available, even in far-flung corners of the islands where not so long ago even a single basic B&B was hard to find. No longer are visitors restricted to a few hotels and guest houses in Stornoway and a few other main settlements: now their options include campsites, caravan parks, youth hostels, and numerous high quality B&Bs and self-catering properties dotted right round the islands, as a quick look at VisitScotland’s site shows.
The award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival (hebceltfest for short) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is responsible for the largest single influx of visitors of the year into Stornoway and surrounds: a boon for B&B operators, hotels, eateries, bars and many other businesses in and around the town. Before the main evening gigs in the Big Tent a lot of visitors spend the mornings and afternoons travelling round Lewis and Harris, enjoying the beaches, hill climbing, rambling or visiting the many ancient monuments and sites of archaeological interest.
The jewel in the crown of the arts scene in Lewis is undoubtedly An Lanntair arts centre, which opened in October 2005 and runs a varied program of events year-round, including the Faclan book festival, live concerts, films, dance workshops and full-scale art exhibitions in its spacious ground-floor gallery. Taigh Chearsabhagh in Lochmaddy, North Uist is another excellent meeting place combining a fine museum, art exhibition space and cafe/shop under one roof.
Just a few of the many things to check out in the Hebrides, which are now more accessible than ever!
By John MacLean, 17/03/15:
Ihave acquired some new equipment recently for more specialised panoramic work where very wide-view photographs are required (or even 360 degree panoramics, for use as VR quicktime files).
Contact me for more details if you need this kind of work carried out.
By John MacLean, 23/02/15:
Amazingly, An Lanntair in Stornoway is 30 years old this year. I still remember a couple of the photos I showed in the first Grinneas open exhibition in 1985, in its original location in Stornoway Town Hall.
Grinneas still soldiers on annually, and this year’s exhibition opening (and 30th anniversary celebration) takes place on the evening of 28th February.
By John MacLean, 17/01/15
Following on from Lewis & Harris winning the Best European Island Destination title, awarded by the world’s largest travel site TripAdvisor last year, the Outer Hebrides have now been shortlisted twice in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.
Eoropie beach in Ness is up for the Beach of the Year award, while the Outer Hebrides as a whole will compete to win the Holiday Destination of the Year award. Voting is open until 31st January, 2015!
By John MacLean, 08/12/14:
Just a reminder (as I’ve been asked about this a few times recently) that John MacLean Photography provides professional photographic services throughout the Western Isles/Outer Hebrides, including the Isle of Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay, North & South Uist, Benbecula, Berneray, Harris and of course Lewis, where I’m based. I am happy to travel up and down the length of the Hebrides at any time of year (it can be a real adventure in winter!) and also enjoy visiting the remoter islands, like the Shiant Isles and St Kilda.
I am well accustomed to taking on commissions at short notice, working to tight deadlines and enjoy meeting and engaging with people in the island communities in which I live and work.
If you need photographic work done quickly and to a professional standard, in the first instance please call me on 01851 820441 / 07468 297727 or use the Contact form to drop me a line and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can (normally within 24 hours).
By John MacLean, 30/11/14
Please note that John MacLean Photography’s mobile phone number has now changed to 07468 297727.
By John MacLean, 20/11/14
Just back from a short November work trip to North Uist and Berneray in unusually mild weather.
After a mostly bright sunny day on Tuesday, it was pure uninterrupted sunshine from dawn to dusk on the Wednesday, making it a pleasure to be working outside on Berneray, but difficult to leave for home the next morning…another day or two staying in Lochmaddy would have been nice, but other work beckons.
Above is a photo of a fiery red cloud just before sunrise at Ruisgarry, Berneray.