Edinburgh-based Andrew Bulloch is the UK Young Landscape Photographer of the Year and Scottish Junior Nature Photographer of the Year (twice), with a total of six major photography awards under his belt. After being shortlisted in the first competition he entered, aged 13, he saved up to buy his first DSLR, a second-hand Nikon D7200, and he’s never looked back. In the Scottish Year of Young People, when better to find out a bit more about this extraordinary young photographer, because we’re sure we’ll be meeting him again…

How did you get started in photography?

We were on a family wild-camping trip to Rannoch Moor in 2015 and I remember getting up very early before anyone else and walking down to the shore of Loch Ossian with my first little point and shoot camera. The loch was perfectly still and the mist was hanging over the water, and I took a photograph of it. It was my Dad suggesting I should enter it into the Scottish Nature Photography Awards that encouraged me to take it seriously. He then passed on his old DSLR camera for me to use, but I eventually bought my own.

Were you surprised to do so well in your first competition?

Oh yes. I’d forgotten I’d even entered it and never for a moment thought I’d get my photo shortlisted and published in the yearbook. Winning it the following year was even more of a shock, though.

So talk us through all your competition wins…

I’ve been lucky to win the Junior Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year twice and I’ve come runner-up in the Scottish Junior Landscape Photographer of the Year twice. In 2017 I won the UK Young Landscape Photographer of the Year (LPOTY), which was amazing, and I won its Classic View category, too. Those awards were presented in London by Ray Mears and Charlie Waite, and the exhibition has travelled all round the UK.

I’ll definitely be entering them all again this year. I know it’s not all about winning awards but it’s fun to find out you’ve been shortlisted and must show you’re doing something right. Most of the competitions are also really good at encouraging young people to participate in photography – the LPOTY competition gives the youth winner almost as much publicity as the main winner! I know it’ll be much harder as an adult to stand out from the crowd.

Do you have any personal favourite shots?

Not really, but the competition-winning photos are always special as people want to talk about them. The LPOTY Classic View photo was taken while on a family holiday on the Moray Coast. The weather had been horrendous all week, with massive waves crashing over the harbour walls. I got up early while my parents were still in bed and tried to sneak out of the holiday cottage with all my dad’s camera gear. Unfortunately I closed the front door too loudly, woke everyone up and was then spotted heading down the street by my mum. She told my dad to get out of bed and chase after me in case I got swept away by the sea, but I think he was more worried about his camera getting wet.

I managed to set up his tripod, his Nikon D750 camera and a Lee filter system on a wet rocky beach on my own and get some photos in the middle of the storm before he finally caught up with me. However, I did notice that, during a break in the clouds around sunrise, a little section of the Bow Fiddle Rock was lit up orange, so we went back the next day when the weather had improved and I got that winning photo.

My photos of the north coast were taken on a summer trip to Cape Wrath. I had seen lots of other people’s photos on Instagram and I wanted to go there but as I was only 14 at the time my mum wouldn’t let me go on my own. So she took the train with me to Inverness and we hired a Fiat 500 and drove to Durness, then caught a tiny ferry over the loch and finally a minibus out to the lighthouse. We stayed the night at the remote Kearvaig Bothy, and did the whole thing in reverse the next day!

What are your favourite locations so far, and which are on your “must go” list?

I love anywhere up in the north of Scotland. We had a very cold winter camping trip to Skye last year, and this year we paddled our canoe into Assynt to climb the mountains Suilven and Stac Pollaidh. These are places every photographer goes to, but for good reasons! I’d love to get out to more of the islands, maybe St Kilda or even up to the Faroes, but I also have a school trip to China in 2019 so I’m hoping I’ll get plenty of opportunities to photograph when I’m out there.

What else do you like photographing?

I love photographing cars, especially supercars. We’ve been to Goodwood and Silverstone in the past but I actually like finding them driving around the city. You don’t get too many up here in Edinburgh but in London there are hordes of car-spotters every evening running round Sloane Square and all the big hotels looking for the expensive cars. However, unless you have special access to events it’s really difficult to get great photos. I met up with the car photographer and Nikon Ambassador Amy Shore last year and I really admire her work; she gets some amazing opportunities.

You’ve got a great photo blog on This Is Edinburgh, the city’s official website – how did that come about?

It was through someone we knew on Instagram. There is a really good Instagram community up here, and we often have meets and events around the city, and a lot of the Instagrammers are heavily into blogging and all sorts of social media. A lot of the local tourist landmarks and event organisers know the power of Instagram and regularly get local photographers to come along to help publicise their events. We then get free access to places you don’t usually get into or where photography isn’t normally allowed. The “This Is Edinburgh” people used to come along to those events. I’ve not had the chance to do any more blogs since, as I’ve been busy with my exams (and playing football).

Do you study photography at school?

My school, Leith Academy, doesn’t teach photography, but I did find a past paper online for the Higher Photography exam and passed it with no prep whatsoever. But maybe I’d better stick to my maths and physics this year. My dad is an amateur photographer, too, and we spend a lot of time together on photo trips, so I’ve learned all the basics from him and we’ve got our own website, bulloch.photography. However, a lot of the other Instagrammers have spent time with me and been really good with showing me tips and ideas. Also, one of the prizes for winning the Scottish Nature Photography Awards was to spend a day with wildlife photographer Ron McCombe, and he was really helpful and taught me a lot about photographing birds.

Whose idea was the website?

I used to run a car page on Instagram years ago but the website was my dad’s idea. We thought that by combining our work we would have enough photos to put on a website, and he said that if I wanted to take photography up as a career later, it would provide a good basis for getting started, and I could also learn about the business side of things if we sold any images.

When you decided to buy your first DSLR, did you have Nikon and the D7200 in mind?

Yes. I had saved up Christmas present money from the previous two years and I could have just about afforded a brand new Nikon with a lower spec, but I saw a second-hand D7200 body for sale online and then picked up a second-hand 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 in my local camera shop. It’s nice and compact and very versatile, so I hardly need to use anything else. My dad has the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto, so when I borrow it and use it on my DX camera it gives me 300mm, which is great for wildlife. But If I eventually want a higher spec lens of my own, I’ll need to save up for it.

What would be your dream Nikon kit?

I have been able to see the Nikon D850 up close, and it’s a very, very nice camera. But if I could ever afford a D850 then I probably wouldn’t worry about what lens to use with it – although I might get a 50mm prime for those close-up car details!

Your dad mentioned you might be doing an exhibition later in the year…

I have a friend whose dad owns a very nice castle in the countryside and he offered to sponsor me as a “well done” for all the competition success. So we wondered about using the castle as a venue for an exhibition to celebrate my previous three years of photography, and just use it as an excuse for a party. We’re hoping to do it sometime in the autumn. Again, it would be huge a learning experience for me, as I’ve never helped organise anything like that before, but I know a lot of photographers do it.

Do you eventually want to be a full-time photographer, or do you have other plans?

I really don’t know yet. I spoke to a few photographers at the LPOTY awards and while some were really negative about the whole photography business, many were incredibly positive. It’s difficult to know what to do. I’m just getting my exams out of the way first and we’ll see what happens. In the meantime I’ll just keep taking the photos.

For more information visit www.bulloch.photography/
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