Media release: Top award for world-renowned Scottish landscape photographer, Colin Prior


Colin Prior, the ‘founding father of landscape photography in Scotland’, wins the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture 2020

ORGANISERS of The Fort William Mountain Festival are pleased to announce that Colin Prior, the world-renowned photographer from Glasgow who has made the panoramic format of Scottish mountain photography his signature, is the 12th recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, sponsored by JAHAMA Highland Estates.

Nominated by the public and his peers as a mountain hero who celebrates achievement, accomplishment and the spirit of adventure, Colin joins previous esteemed winners, including Andy Nisbet, Dr Adam Watson, Jimmy Marshall, Myrtle Simpson, Ian Sykes, Dr Hamish MacInnes and Cameron McNeish in the Excellence in Mountain Culture Hall of Fame. (* Full Colin Prior biography in Notes for editors.)

As a visionary of landscape photography in Scotland, whose work has been showcased all over the world, Colin Prior is an artist and technician who expertly creates the illusion of three-dimensionality in two-dimensional images.

His majestic photographs of the hugely iconic Scottish mountains capture sublime moments of light, colour and land. They are also the result of meticulous research, planning, preparation and skill, often involving repeated trips to the most inaccessible locations for the precise moment when weather and light conditions perfectly combine at the ‘golden hour’ of dawn or dusk.

Colin Prior once said of his photography: “To know a mountain is to understand its rhythms and then become part of them. To photograph mountains successfully demands what the Arctic Inuit refer to as ‘quinuituq’ which, translated, means ‘deep patience’ – literally waiting hours for one second, or in my case, years for one second.”

JAHAMA Highland Estates chief operating officer, Julia Stoddart MRICS, commented: “As the sponsors of this prestigious Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, we are delighted that Colin Prior has been recognised for his inspirational work.

“JAHAMA Highland Estates greatly values the hugely significant impact that Colin’s portfolio has had on so many people who love the rural environment, and particularly the mountains of Scotland. Colin’s passion for the mountains and his dedication to his art is exceptional, making him a worthy recipient of this award.”

Colin Prior’s passion for and curiosity of the natural world has shaped all aspects of his life. Through his photography, he communicates how Scotland’s wild places make him feel whilst inspiring people to appreciate the world outside of their own.

Throughout his career as a photographer he has produced seven books of his work, all published internationally; he has been commissioned by British Airways to photograph four corporate calendars; he has exhibited his work in several solo exhibitions; and he has worked on a variety of TV documentaries featuring photography, mountains and travel and appeared on many TV and radio programmes.

His passion for mountains and wild places is shared with others through his regular photography workshops and tuition. As a commercial photographer, he continues to work closely with the creative community and the corporate sector with clients such as W H Malcolm, Hornby Hobbies, Calmac, Talent Scotland and Bowmore.

Rod Pashley, chair of The Highland Mountain Culture Association, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival, said: “You’ve only got to look at the breadth of stunning landscape work that Colin has produced over the years to know the visual impact he has made on so many who love and admire our Scottish landscapes and beyond.

“Colin’s work graces the walls of so many of our homes and allows us to feel and be a part of the outdoors where perhaps some are unable to go or once visited. We’re proud to welcome Colin into the Festival Ambassador Hall of Fame family.”

Lochaber-based JAHAMA Highland Estates, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, is delighted that world-renowned Scottish landscape photographer, Colin Prior – the founding father of landscape photography in Scotland – has been awarded the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture 2020.

Julia Stoddart MRICS, added: “JAHAMA Highland Estates is honoured to support the Fort William Mountain Festival. We are deeply committed to our responsibilities as custodians of the iconic mountainous landscapes enjoyed and cherished by wide-ranging communities of interest and of geography, and are grateful for the festival team’s work in highlighting the importance of mountain culture.”


Media contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E:

M: +44 (0)7913 951717

Image attached: Colin Prior

If you are keen to attend the Fort William Mountain Festival for a commissioned travel feature or adventure/activity feature please contact Paddy Cuthbert to discuss a funded press trip to The Outdoor Capital of the UK.

Notes for editors:

The Fort William Mountain Festival on digital:

Website –

Mountain Culture Awards –

Instagram –

Facebook –

Vimeo –

Hashtag – #fwmf2020

* Colin Prior biography


Born in Milngavie, Glasgow, in 1958, Colin Prior discovered photography at the age of 23 through a fascination with the natural world. Having very little photography experience, he created a portfolio of images of Scotland’s coastline and the Red Sea. He was then surprised to win ‘best newcomer to underwater photography’ in the Camera Beneath the Waves competition in 1981.

Working at the time as an operations manager, this recognition was the catalyst that changed his life.  Following a stint on a North Sea oil platform as a photo-technician, he was soon following a career as a commercial photographer, the most lucrative genre. Commissions by advertising and design agencies for clients in the travel, lifestyle, and leisure sectors paid the bills and helped to establish his reputation.

In the mid-90s, he was commissioned by British Airways to photograph four corporate calendars with briefs that took him around the world many times. He tracked black rhino in Zimbabwe, roamed the Argentinean pampas with gauchos, lived amongst the Himba in Namibia’s Kaokoland, survived a week in a ‘bush camp’ with Aboriginal Australians, and documented the life-long relationships between Sri Lanka’s mahouts and their elephants. He also flew from Kunming in China to Perth, Australia, with a fractured skull having survived a taxi accident, trekked for five weeks in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains (against the advice of the Foreign Office) with a herniated disk and gate-crashed the official birthday party of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Ladakh.

The commercial work allowed him the freedom to pursue personal projects. Concentrating almost exclusively on the panoramic format, Colin Prior set out to photograph Scotland’s wild places in what he believed would be a new and visually exciting way.  Since then, he has produced seven books that include Highland Wilderness (1993), Scotland – The Wild Places (2001), Living Tribes, The World’s Wild Places, High Light, and Scotland’s Finest Landscapes – The Collector’s Edition, all published internationally. His current project, Fragile, is an exploration into the habitats of wild birds and their vulnerability to change.

Colin Prior has had several solo photography exhibitions, most notably The Scottish Visual Experience (Linhof Gallery, London); Land’s End (Museum of Education, Glasgow) and The World’s Wild Places (OXO Tower Gallery, London and Glasgow Science Centre). Over the past ten years, he has worked on a variety of documentaries featuring photography, mountains and travel and most recently on Mountain Man, a series filmed in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains.

He has also appeared on The Adventure Show (BBC), Landward (BBC), Countryfile (BBC) and Weir’s Way (STV); as well as guesting on numerous topical programmes on BBC Radio Scotland. His passion for mountains and wild places is shared through a portfolio of photography workshops and tuition where the emphasis is placed on the development of personal vision; he doesn’t understand photography expressed in terms of technique alone.

The Fort William Mountain Festival

The Fort William Mountain Festival 2020 runs from Wednesday 19 to Sunday 23 February 2020 at venues in and around the bustling Highland town of Fort William, at the heart of the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’. The main presentations and film nights take place in the Nevis Centre and the festival launch night will take place on the Fort William High Street. Venues for workshops and other events can be found on the website.

The Fort William Mountain Festival 2020 programme is presented in association with Nevis Landscape Partnership, the ‘Outdoor Capital’, and the Highland Council.

The Fort William Mountain Festival 2020 is sponsored by  Rare Breed Productions, Ellis Brigham, University of the Highlands and Islands, Strathmore Hotels, Abacus Mountain Guides, Jahama Estates, Nevis Range, the John Muir Trust, The Granite House, The Outdoor Capital of the UK, Print Smith, Lamont Design, Caledonian Discovery, Black Isle Brewery, and Great Glen Chacuterie.

Festival tickets can sell out in advance particularly for the popular nights.

The festival attracts approaching 1,500 people over the five days and takes place each February in and around the town of Fort William.

The Highland Mountain Culture Association Limited

Festival organisers, The Highland Mountain Culture Association Limited, is a not-for-profit organisation, whose aim is to promote the understanding and appreciation of the world’s mountain places and people, by creating opportunities for people of all ages to share their mountain experiences, ideas and visions. To showcase these ideals, it stages annually a programme of events within the Lochaber area, called The Fort William Mountain Festival.

The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture

The prestigious Scottish Awards for Excellence in Mountain Culture recognise the achievements and accomplishments of inspiring individuals and their outstanding contributions to Scotland’s outdoor culture; encompassing sport, theatre, art, photography, film and literature.

In 2019, The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture was presented to Noel Williams, inspirational high school teacher, author of respected mountain guides, founding member of the Lochaber Geopark, retired member of Lochaber Mountain Rescue and accomplished hill runner; and The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture was presented to Rob Cochrane, volunteer Cub and Scout group leader and a Duke of Edinburgh leader, from Inverlochy, Fort William.

The award was set up in 2008 by the Highland Mountain Culture Association Ltd, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival.  The 2020 Award is sponsored by JAHAMA Highland Estates. The Youth Award is sponsored by West Highland College UHI (School of Adventure Studies).

Previous recipients of The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture are:

2019 – Noel Williams

2018 – Cameron McNeish

2017 – Dr Hamish Brown MBE

2016 – Mick Tighe

2015 – Robin Campbell

2014 – Andy Nisbet

2013 – Myrtle Simpson

2012 – Dr Adam Watson

2011 – Ian Sykes

2010 – Jimmy Marshall

2009 – Richard Else

2008 – Dr Hamish MacInnes

Previous recipients of The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture are:

2019 – Rob Cochrane

2018 – Shauna Coxsey

2017 – Robert Mackenzie

2016 – Natalie Berry

2015 – Zeki Basan

JAHAMA Highland Estates


JAHAMA is the real estate group within the GFG Alliance. a global alliance of energy, mining, metals, engineering, logistics and financial services businesses, headquartered in London, with additional hubs in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Paris and New York and a presence in around 30 countries worldwide. The Alliance, which has a global workforce of around 15,000 people and a turnover exceeding US$15 billion, comprises integrated industrials and metals businesses under the ‘Liberty’ banner; a resources, energy, transportation and infrastructure group under ‘SIMEC'; Wyelands; a banking and financial services arm, as well as its real estate arm, JAHAMA. JAHAMA’s assets include commercial, office, agricultural, energy and recreational properties situated across four continents, with the majority held in the United Kingdom.

JAHAMA Highland Estates was created after GFG acquired the smelter, hydro station and 114,000 acres of estate lands in 2016 and immediately committed itself to continue to expand the woodland planting projects already underway there.

In addition to the Kinlochleven project, the Jahama Highland Estate’s team also planted 84 hectares of trees – equating to 204,530 conifer and native broadleaves – at Am Maol in Glenshero last year and has recently finished planting 90,000 trees along the River Spey in the Creagan Breaca area of the estate. The new plantation will enhance water capture and retention, helping the conservation of vulnerable native river species downstream.

The ‘Finest Woods Awards’ are made during the Royal Highland Show, which is organised by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, founded in 1784. As a highlight of the UK’s agricultural calendar, the event attracts over 1,000 trade exhibitors.

The Outdoor Capital of the UK


The Outdoor Capital of the UK is Lochaber Chamber of Commerce’s tourism brand, promoting adventure for all! The Chamber publicises, sponsors and promotes Fort William and Lochaber as the best place in the UK for everyone to experience the outdoors; with a view to developing local jobs and wealth and encouraging sustainable economic growth.

This is done through a range of collaborative marketing initiatives and activities. The organisation currently has a wide range of member businesses ranging from accommodation, food and drink and activity providers to non-tourism focused businesses who support the aims of the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and acknowledge that tourism is crucial to the local economy. Many of these businesses are SMEs and, by pulling resources and working as a team, the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce achieves the positive results that individually the members couldn’t otherwise reach.

The Chamber produces official event programmes and guides which showcase all there is to see and do in Fort William and Lochaber. The Outdoor Capital of the UK website is also the go-to site for local events, outdoor activities and visitor accommodation in the area.

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