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Harry (95) is still picture perfect for stunning Highland snaps

By Jess Fulton

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Harry Payne with his wife's favourite photograph: Three wild goats. Picture: Callum Mackay
Harry Payne with his wife's favourite photograph: Three wild goats. Picture: Callum Mackay

From the Kessock Bridge to goats on a mountain, Harry Payne’s photos have graced the pages of The Inverness Courier for over 15 years.

The 95-year-old from Inverness has has 158 varied landscape snaps published by the Courier – his first being submitted on camera film at the time when the late Jim Love was the editor.

Harry was born in Glasgow in 1928, and after dropping out of school at 15, he got a job at a laundry company. However shortly after he left and studied at his local college for a year and then went on to study geography at the University of Glasgow and became a geography teacher. At the time, there was a shortage of teachers so his fees were paid for.

He was and still is the “outdoorsy” type so geography seemed like the perfect subject to teach. He graduated and went on to teach in the central belt for over 20 years and during that time he joined a rambling club. While there he saw beautiful pictures of the Highlands that inspired him to invest in a camera – purchasing an Agfa Silette.

Harry would travel north for hillwalking and that is where he found a passion for taking photos. He and his wife moved up to Inverness in the early ‘90s as they agreed it was the “focal point of Scotland” and great for travelling to smaller towns and villages in the region.

As his passion for photography grew, Harry joined the Inverness Camera Club and was a member for three-and-a-half years. When he was part of the club, he learned photography techniques such as leading lines and how to effectively capture the texture of water. He also won a ‘landscape prize’ in a club competition.

Jim visited the club because he wanted to introduce the Courier Country feature, catching Harry’s interest.

Harry Payne's first photograph he sent to the Courier.
Harry Payne's first photograph he sent to the Courier.

He changed his style of photos to fit what Jim was looking for and submitted his first photo which was of Chanonry Point. Harry knew his photo had been a success when a woman who lived nearby wanted a copy of the photo for her house. He created a scrapbook as he continued to send in photos.

“I never thought I would reach 158 in 2023,” he said.

Harry has taken a variety of photos over his time in Inverness. He often took his camera out cycling or hillwalking, even when it was raining, and captured some great shots of the wilderness. His most popular photos in the Inverness Courier are the swans up at Inverness Campus.

One of his most memorable photos was taken on April 26, 2011 when he was driving to Nairn to take some photos and was passing Milton of Leys and glanced in his rear-view mirror to see a wildfire raging through the trees. He stopped the car and ran out where two firemen met him. One of them said: “Och, we’ll manage it between us, no bother!”

Harry's photo of a wildfire in Milton of Leys.
Harry's photo of a wildfire in Milton of Leys.

He managed to get an incredible shot of the flames before all the emergency services arrived.

Harry’s favourite photo he has taken was in Inverness near Bught Park in autumn.

“I used the sports centre for about 15 years to keep fit and play badminton,” Harry added. “My great pleasure these days is a regular morning coffee and bit of chat with the staff at Café Artysans, followed by a stroll around town and a seat on a bench in the High Street, people watching. I am a Munro compleatist and I have a big garden, which has been a source of pleasure, and exercise, over the years.”

One of Harry Payne's favourite photographs.
One of Harry Payne's favourite photographs.

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