Still life

How one Scottish GP found new purpose through the lens of a camera

PATIENCE is a necessity in a good wildlife photographer – and Dr Ian Mason should know as he is among the best. Last year one of his images was shortlisted for the British Wildlife Photography Award and he has twice been highly commended in the contest.

What is all the more remarkable is the fact that Ian only took up photography seriously five years ago when working as a GP in Charlestown in Fife not far from the city of Edinburgh.

"I went on safari to Zambia and was really captivated by the wildlife," he says. "I had picked an old second-hand Canon 10D camera for the trip – and that’s when I realised the huge potential of digital photography."

On his return Ian began taking photographs of mostly birdlife in the woods and wetlands near his home. The hobby became a refuge from the hustle and bustle of general practice.

"It certainly helped me to relax and think about life in general," he says.

Some of the images would end up as prints hanging in his GP surgery to be appreciated only by his patients. But most of the images languished on his computer hard drive. And then a year ago Ian’s life changed dramatically when he suffered a stroke and decided to retire early from general practice.

"The recovery has been fairly slow but good – not 100 per cent but it doesn’t stop me from taking photographs, which is important."

Retirement meant that Ian had extra time on his hands so he decided to make more of his photography. He began selling prints of his work both through his exhibitions and also online, donating the proceeds to charities including Chest Heart Stroke Scotland and The Stroke Association. So far he has donated over £1000 in profits and is certain to raise more in the coming years with growing print sales and Christmas cards.

"Until I started this all my images just lay on my computer and I was the only person seeing them. Now they are being put to good use and hopefully people will benefit."

More of Ian’s photography can be seen on his website at www.ianmasonnaturephotography.com

Profile by Jim Killgore, contributing editor