One of my photos, named “Distant shores”, was recently nominated in the 2023 Fine Art Photography Awards. I thought I’d share the story behind it, in the hope it offers you creative inspiration – including three principles that guide me in my work as a photographer and in life more broadly.

The magic of staying in one place

When I told people I had planned a trip to Scotland, they asked me what places I was going to visit.

One place, I told them.

Just one place?

Yes, just one place.

One beach, to be precise.

Laig Bay is a stretch of white sand on the Isle of Eigg, a small island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides with a mere 100 residents.

For 10 days in a row, I returned there every morning and every evening, before breakfast and after dinner.

Most of the time, there was no one there, except for me, and, on a few occasions, a mysterious woman taking an early dive in the Atlantic Ocean at dawn (we never spoke a word).

I felt at home the moment I set foot on the beach. It was quiet. Peaceful. Raw, unspoilt nature. My kind of place.

Often I would sit there in silence on a rock, gazing out across the water, waiting for the right moment to set up my camera.

I loved every minute of it.

Yet still, one may ask, why visit the same beach 20 times when there is so much more to explore?

Here we get to three core principles that guide my work as a photographer, and my philosophy of life more generally:

1. To commit is to be persistent when no one is watching

My goal was to capture the nearby Isle of Rum in a way that would evoke a dark, dreamy, and serene atmosphere. One may come across such an image on social media and think that it’s obtained on the first attempt. Reality is different. First, you have no control over the weather. Second, the landscape itself changes as the ocean ebbs and flows. That means you need to learn to ‘read the scene’ first. I took this photo on my 11th visit to the beach, after I had taken 279 shots that you will never get to see. To commit is to be persistent – especially when no one is watching.

2. Constraints breed creativity

It’s often thought that creativity flourishes in complete freedom. The opposite is often true. Constraining your playground – in this instance, to 1,000 meters of beach, day after day – forces you to play with a limited number of parameters: light, motion, and composition. You have to work with what’s available. Rather than stifling your creativity, it can supercharge it. Try it. By consciously limiting the range of possibilities, you will actually start to see more possibilities.

3. There is beauty in taking things slow

Modern life teaches us to go fast. Even on vacation, we may feel rushed to see everything there is to see. Instead, by confining ourselves to a small area, we can take things at a slower pace – prioritising the depth of our experience over its breadth. You allow yourself to appreciate details you had otherwise overlooked. A peculiar cloud in the sky. An oddly shaped shell on the beach. The sound of the ocean, rising and receding in a recurrent rhythm until the ocean lives inside you. That’s the beauty of taking things slow.

This photo, “Distant shores”, is available for print in a variety of sizes. To receive more stories like this in your mailbox, please subscribe to my newsletter.