Jason Baxter, Photographer & Film-maker

  • Jason Baxter
  • Jason Baxter landscapes
  • Jason Baxter landscapes

Attracted by the light and the landscape, local photographer and film-maker Jason Baxter continues to gain inspiration from the Tweed Valley – so much so that he’s dedicated a film to the area


When did you first come to the Tweed Valley?

I came here from Edinburgh about seven years ago.

What is it about the Tweed Valley that does it for you?

I first experienced the Tweed Valley whilst on a shoot for the Scottish Consumer Council. The area struck me as being really quite scenic, more than I had imagined. A year later the opportunity arose to move, so I chose the Tweed Valley. For me, it’s the beauty, the quality of light and the ability to really feel outdoors in the wild without having to drive for hours up to the Highlands. Within 10 minutes of my house, I can be walking in the hills with my trusty spaniel Ruby by my side enjoying the fresh air and stunning views. It never fails to excite and fill me with a sense of joy.

Your work covers a range of disciplines, from commercial stills photography to large-scale panoramas of iconic Scottish landscapes. What do you enjoy the most?

Difficult one that! Commercial work is exciting if you have the right client, although on balance, I would most probably go for the landscapes. If you can combine commercial work with landscapes then it’s the best of both worlds. Thankfully, last winter I did exactly that and spent time in Glencoe, Kintail and Ben Lawers on a commission for The National Trust for Scotland. Could not have asked for better!

You’ve made a gradual journey from still to moving images. Tell us about that shift and the different skills required

It has been a gradual journey, as the moving image is a much more complex art form to master. Creating storylines, narratives and combining that with soundscapes is by no means an easy transition. I have deliberately taken time to learn the craft and make my mistakes behind closed doors! Having an understanding of light, exposure and composition has proved invaluable, but the moving image does push you into thinking more of how to light an entire scene with different camera positions rather than thinking on a singular basis of stills photography. It has helped that through this process I’ve been employed part time with Borders College as their in-house media technician in creating media content for learning. I would have still embarked on this journey, but think it would have taken a lot longer to master.

You’ve been working a lot recently on aerial cinematic footage using a drone. Sounds fun!

In short – it’s a blast! It’s tricky too. You can’t just fly and expect to get it perfect first time. I’ve had a few close shaves where I had visions of my investment crashing into the sea or flying headlong into a cliff!

One of your first aerial films covers the Tweed Valley. What were you looking to convey in the film?

I wanted to convey a sense of beauty and space. It’s also a homage and letter of thanks to the area, as it has for personal reasons given me the opportunity to find hope again and regain my self-confidence after a difficult period in my life. It has given me time to re-build and breathe the fresh air of nature just when I needed it most and for that I am truly thankful. The Tweed Valley has given me so much – I just wanted to give at least something back.

Your Tweed Valley film will open the inaugural Peebles Outdoor Film Festival at the Eastgate Theatre this weekend (13-15 Feb). What does it feel like to have your film shown on the big screen for the first time?

Cliché I know, but it’s awesome! It’s not often you have the opportunity to be the first film shown at an inaugural film festival. I’m truly honored to be chosen – and also incredibly nervous. I will find it difficult to watch my own work to my first film audience. I just pray they like it.

What are you working on right now? 

I’m working on two film projects at the moment. The first is with Kirsty Jobling, an actor from Melrose who has written and directed The Willow Tree, a short film which will be previewed at the Alchemy Film Festival [in Hawick] in April. I’m fulfilling the role of producer and cinematographer/DOP. It’s my first partnered venture into short film and I’m excited how it’s all coming together. We are both funding the project ourselves.

I’m also now working in partnership with a local company, Air Cam Pro, in producing a show reel of HD cinematic footage. In turn, I’m aiming to target advertising agencies, nature documentaries, event companies, and commercial film production firms who lack that specialism, plus local tourism organisations in need of that extra punch for their marketing material. Its early days yet, but we both feel this is going to be a fulfilling and profitable partnership. The omens are good.

What is it that you most love about what you do?

Million dollar question! The ability to be myself as I’m never going to be a nine to five person, and the opportunities to push my creative boundaries further and further. It’s a very rewarding career choice. 

Finally, if you could shoot one person, thing or place, who or what would it be?

One place comes to mind above all else: Chile and Southern Argentina. It just looks like an epic landscape you would never tire of, with huge deserts and mountain ranges to die for. I can imagine setting off in a Land Rover and getting lost for six months with all my stills and video equipment and just doing what I do best. That I could deal with.

Further info

Jason Baxter’s short film, The Tweed Valley, will open the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival at the Eastgate Theatre on Fri 13 Feb (6pm). For the full programme, click HERE

For much more on Jason’s work, visit www.jasonbaxter.net


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