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Lewis & Harris Workshop Review

Posted on 25th March, 2024

Lewis & Harris Workshop Review

I’m not sure we’ve had more eagerly anticipated workshops than our recent back-to-back Lewis & Harris 4-day courses. Despite the Islands’ remoteness, both workshops sold out within minutes of going live on the D2D website over a year ago, and – judging by the length of the cancellation list – these Hebridean islands are clearly on many people’s photo bucket-list. And that is hardly a surprise. Lewis and Harris are often described as one of Britain’s best kept secrets, home to breath-taking sandy bays, mile-upon-mile of swaying sand dunes, rugged coastline, and towering sea stacks. The intense colour of the sea is indescribable, and the breathing space and peace is simply good for the soul. This is a very special place…

Ferry or plane?

Technically one landmass, but split into two islands, Lewis and Harris are located at the top of the Outer Hebrides, just off the Scottish west coast. The most obvious route is via ferry from Ullapool or Uig on the Isle of Skye, but you can also fly into Stornoway (the largest town on Lewis). As a landscape photographer there are certainly advantages to bringing your car and traveling via ferry, as you can bring more kit, clothing for all weather types, and wellington boots – a must have item for beach photography! However, bad weather can obviously effect the ferry crossing. Thankfully, we had no issues for the first workshop with everyone arriving without issue – three of the group unfortunately missed the first afternoon of the second workshop due to a cancelled ferry, but otherwise both workshops ran smoothly, and the weather mostly behaved throughout.

Creative intentions

During both workshops we stayed at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert, ideally located for exploring Harris’ renowned beaches, coves, and rocky bays (the Harris distillery is also within staggering distance of the hotel!). While Luskentyre is the best-known beach, Scarista, Seilebost, Northton and ‘Small Beach’ were all also on our itinerary, with each providing their own unique charm and photo opportunities. March is a wonderful time to visit the Outer Hebrides, with the weather growing more settled, but with the promise of stormy skies and rainbows. It is also a nice day length in early spring, although we were still leaving the hotel by 5.30am each morning to reach our viewpoint for any pre-dawn colour. There are still very few tourists on the islands at this time of year and we typically had locations all to ourselves. With so much space to explore, there is so much opportunity to find unique viewpoints and be creative, and we encouraged clients to experiment with ICM (Intentional Camera Motion) and multiple exposure throughout the workshops – the locations just lend themselves to being innovative. Many of the beaches are home to extraordinary sand patterns and beautiful patterned boulders – so we didn’t just focus on the big vista, but detail too.   

During both workshops we spent a day exploring Lewis, home to a much more rugged and dramatic landscape. The impressive sea stacks at Mangersta were our top priority, but we also visited the incredible Neolithic Callanish standing stones, older (and arguably more impressive) than Stonehenge. Lewis and Harris are steeped in history, being one of the first places in the British Isles to be settled on around 8500 BC. Lewis and Harris are Scotland's largest island, and we did plenty of driving between locations, but every journey provided such extraordinary views – you almost wanted to stop after every bend to take another photo!

The local water

Not only were the workshops good for photography, exploring, learning and development, but they were wonderfully social too - lots of fun, laughter, and banter! On the evening between workshops, everyone staying at the hotel that night dined together, with lots of people knowing each other already. The local water (Harris gin) was enjoyed by most and the hotel fed us well and made us feel welcome throughout.

Normally, by the end of back-to-back workshops, I’m ready to go home – I always miss the kids and it’s always nice to get back to your own bed. But, like everyone else, I was in no rush to leave. I felt I had unfinished business – photographs I still wanted to capture, places I still wanted to explore. Luskentyre in particular has this ability to entice you back again and again. It’s hard to explain just how intoxicating and enchanting this place is – it’s a difficult Island to say goodbye to and I’m not surprised that most photographers end up returning time-after-time. I certainly can’t wait to return in March 2026, when Dawn 2 Dusk Photography will be running back-to-back workshops once again. We hope you can join us…