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Winram's Return

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Photographer Laurence Winram returned to our island this week to help capture our story.

Our online storytelling unfolds every day of the year as we share words and pictures about distillery and island life across social media.

We're lucky to have great folk on the team to capture images as we go and some talented local men and women who are a whizz with the camera and generous enough to let us use their work.

But, every year, we invite our friend and photographer Laurence Winram to join us on the island for a fun but intense week of shooting whatever catches his well-trained outsider's eye.

September light and still seas on the west coast of Harris.

Based in Edinburgh, Laurence has been part of our distillery project since the early days and visitors to our Tarbert home will recognise his work hung on our walls.

From distillers' portraits to those working behind the scenes, he has an uncanny ability to reveal character and find magical moments in our day-to-day working lives.

He's also the man behind the photography used in The 1,916 book we created at the start of the enterprise, revealing many of the men and women who make up the community of Harris.

Sun rays as we look over to the cask warehouses at Ardhasaig

While much of his work embraces the unusual and surreal, with abstract and artistic leanings, he's also brilliant at bringing out the best of people and revealing the beauty of their everyday.

We tend not to prescribe a hard and fast brief for his visit, and after past efforts to rigorously plan a schedule, we've now settled into a much more relaxed approach to his time here.

Island weather does not lend itself well to following a script, and any hopes of staging blue skies or beautiful sunsets quickly get a reality check.

Autumn rollers as we brace ourselves for the coming season.

Sometimes it's a matter of chasing breaks in the cloud or simply surrendering to the moment and taking whatever comes his camera's way on the day.

This almost zen-like approach has proved to be a very Harris way of working, and some of our favourite photographs have come about purely by chance.

Whether it's the curious Highland cow photobombing a shot of our Isle of Harris Gin bottle or snatching rainclouds crashing over the Clisham hills, it's the unplanned pictures that often surprise and surpass.

Brief glimpses of sun amidst the grey of a September day.

Amidst the chaos of nature, there are also people, and thankfully most are a little bit easier to maintain some semblance of control. Most of the time, at least…

Part of Laurence's tasks this time around was to photograph two of our trainee distillers away from the workplace so they could take their place on our distillery's gallery wall.

Young Rebekah Morrison braved the inclement elements to pose for a perfect shot patiently, but her colleague Phil was a more significant challenge to capture away from the stills.

Apprentice distiller and amateur archer Rebekah Morrison from Bowglass

A hard-working crofter with a hectic sheep-keeping schedule, it proved a tough task to tie him down as he headed for the hills for the annual 'gathering' of his flock.

But, such is the nature of life here in Harris and we thank him and all our staff for taking the time to look into the lens during their busy working days here at the distillery.

We look forward to sharing the results of his time here over the coming months, and after the travel limits of lockdown it's been a real pleasure to witness Winram's return…

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