Some photos from my trip to Scotland, 2001
All photos by Emily Shur
I just returned from three days and nights in NYC/NJ – more on my trip at a later date. On my way home from EWR, I had the misfortune of watching Made of Honor on the airplane (I’m not even going to dignify that movie with a link) out of sheer boredom. The only slightly redeeming quality that movie possesses is that is pays homage to Scotland, albeit stereotypical and clichd. It brought me back to what I now refer to as the best shoot ever.
In late August of 2001, I got a shoot for Travel & Leisure Golf Magazine. Pretty random, yes. I had made the connection with the then photo editor at a portfolio review at The Art Director’s Club, and she gave me the wonderful opportunity of going to Scotland for 7 days. The assignment was to follow around and document an American golfer’s experience at the Scottish Seniors Open in Roxburghe which is in an area known as the Borders. The twist on the story was that the writer, Bob Cullen, was also going to caddy and write of his experiences as a caddy on this tour firsthand. I was supposed to photograph not just golf and the tournament, but every aspect of their and my trip. I had never been to Scotland before, and I had never photographed golf before, which I quickly learned, required much etiquette.
I was able to travel with an assistant, who at the time was also my closest friend. We flew into Edinburgh, where we picked up our rental car, a tiny blue Mercedes van type thing, and drove into the countryside. Neither of us had ever driven a car in Europe or the UK. We bumped into many curbs. Once we left Edinburgh street signage was very sparse, and we found ourselves stopping along dirt roads asking locals for directions. The directions were mostly like, “Turn left at the windmill and then a right at the crossroads.” It was a pretty lengthy drive. We finally made it to our hotel which was so beautiful. It was a very old converted abbey…very old. There was nothing around the hotel for quite a ways. The restaurant in the hotel was our only food option once we were there, and it was delicious. The room was so quaint and pretty fancy. We soon learned that the area in which the Scottish Seniors Open took place, as well as the surrounding townships, were fairly well off.
Every morning, my assistant and I would drive about 20 minutes to Roxburghe for the tournament where I was instructed on the p’s and q’s of golf photography. You may only shoot after the swing has been fully completed. Never make noise. Ever. Normally, photographers are not allowed on the green, but I was. It was made clear that this was not the norm and that I should be grateful for the coveted perspective I was granted, and I was. I never had any interest in golf. In fact, I was uninterested in golf. By the end of the week, I was biting my nails along with everyone else down to the last hole. The wonderful golfer I was documenting, David Oakley, wound up winning the whole thing. Great for him and for my story. I just scoured the internet on some info on David, only to find that he has since passed away. This actually makes me quite sad. He was a really nice person, a great golfer and was excited at my new found appreciation of golf. He wanted to teach me how to swing and explained all the subtleties of the game which got me really into it. I realized it is a thinking person’s sport and requires a knowledge of lots of things – physics and weather and all types of stuff I never even thought about.
I photographed Bob and David enjoying their down time in Scotland as well. That in turn became our collective down time, which we all enjoyed. Scotland is wonderful, beautiful, interesting, and fun. The weather is crazy, or at least it was during the course of that week. In one day, it would go from sunny, to pouring rain, to really really windy, and then a rainbow would appear. We went to pubs and drank beer. We went shopping in quaint little villages. I loved the locals. There were Scottish tv crews covering the golf tournament, and the camera guys would offer my assistant and I whiskey from the flasks they kept in their inner coat pockets. We (my assistant and I) crashed a Scottish wedding at our hotel. It was such a free and creative assignment. The photo editor had put total and complete faith in me, and I was fully aware and appreciative of this the entire time.
We arrived back home in NY on September 3rd, 2001. Little did we know, in a little over a week, our lives would be changed forever, and this sort of lengthy work-travel opportunity would not happen again for me, as of yet. I would love to go back to the Scottish countryside someday, just to be there again.