Ian's respect for traditional ways of life on the margins of mainstream contemporary society prompted him to establish his own publishing company in order to raise the profile of these valuable and irreplaceable communities and individuals. His ultimate aim is to create a better understanding of the profound importance of diverse cultural groups to humanity as a whole through their innate ancient knowledge, minority languages and dialects and close connection to nature.
‘Cultural loss means the disappearance of memory and history, but it is also a loss of potential, a loss to the future. By documenting the working lives of fragile societies, my aim is to inspire others to take notice of what is at stake for us all.’
The decision to self-publish was a significant moment for me. Interest in my projects from mainstream publishers and bookstores was growing, but I felt the work deserved to be presented in a way that held true to the integrity of the images and the subject matter. I wanted my books to be unlike anything else available on the market. Within a couple of years, I went from being a busy commissioned photographer to an even busier book publisher. Plunged into a new world of design, print and production schedules, it would have been easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task in hand. Where could I find a printing company capable of producing the book to the quality I wanted? How would people get hold of the book? How would people get to hear about the book in the first place? My belief in the unique stories kept me going through some dark moments! Schedules had to be altered several times to allow for editing and restructuring or simply waiting for the right moment to publish.
For my first title, From the Land, a huge boost of confidence came from the Harris Tweed Authority in Stornoway. On the strength of the work, I was granted special permission to re-produce the much celebrated Orb Trademark on the cover. A real honour for an Englishman! HRH Prince Charles also kindly agreed to write a foreword, another indicator of how strong is the feeling for wool tweeds and those who weave it in all walks of life.
When the first proofs emerged from my design studio in early 2013, I breathed a big sigh of relief. The book looked great. It was a true account of my journey to the heart of the Hebrides - and a milestone in self-publishing! My printing and binding is now in the careful hands of master craftsmen and women in Vicenza, Italy.