Not to sound like a Visit Scotland representative, but there’s no beating the UK’s most northern country’s scenery, whether it’s the cloud-tipped munros or postcard-perfect lochs. Not convinced? Let Dunfermline-raised Jackson Moyles prove you wrong.
The 21-year-old Scottish photographer brings the landscape to life, looking past the dreich weather to capture moments that channel the terror-inducing beauty to be found in the natural world. Journeying up the Highlands’ mightiest peaks, he creates work that revels in inconceivable heights that make you realise just how small and insignificant our earthly concerns are. Also a source of constant inspiration are the dilapidated castles, crannogs and bothies that serve as a reminder of the many generations who have trod the soil before and the Scottish people’s deep connection with the land.
A tenacious adventurer when it comes to mountaineering, his approach to creativity is no less explorative. “I’ve tried pretty much everything under the sun in the creative arts,” Moyles admits. After a prolonged period of searching (in the wrong places) for his ideal medium, his experience with photography was love at first flash. “I was pretty good at [other creative arts] but I never really excelled,” he notes. “As I was hunting I thought, ‘I fancy buying a camera.’ I just went for it and on my first shoot I fell in love and it spiralled from there.”
Developing his practice after that initial spark, he decided to push his photography to the next level with the BBC’s competition series the Great British Photography Challenge (GBPC) earlier this year, which saw him test his skills in his chosen specialism of nature photography as well as branching out into fashion, documentary and more under the tutelage of Rankin. Speaking of which, Moyles notes that his GBPC mentor’s unflinchingly honest but utmost caring critique is just what the young photographer needed. “Rankin is a harsh critic but he’s fair at the same time, and I enjoyed that because you’re able to banter with him and properly gain something from it. He really did care.”
Over the course of the series, viewers saw Moyles push himself and grow in order to fully embrace the process – after all, his intentions when applying for the show were, quite simply, to elevate his practice and get the most out of it as possible. “I went in with the mindset that I was just going to enjoy myself,” he says. “I wanted to take something from the experience, pick Rankin’s brain and have a laugh.”
It’s particularly striking, then, that Moyles would go on to score a joint win with Northampton’s Tyrone Williams. To Rankin, however, this precocious talent could well be the photographer of the future. “Jackson is the photographer who reminded me most of myself at that age,” Rankin has previously said. “He loves landscapes, I love portraiture, but we share the same passion for taking photographs, that same drive to make the next picture great – and, sometimes, the same cocky attitude! He worked hard for the show, pushed himself – he’s really one to watch.”
This story is taken from our Taking Back Control issue. Order your copy here.