An interview with Hamish Frost
Hamish Frost is a Glasgow-based photographer. Featuring cold, challenging conditions in harsh mountain environments, his best-known work documents winter climbing, skiing, BASE jumping and downhill mountain biking.
We speak with Hamish and take a behind-the-scenes look at the craft of a mountain sports photographer.
Committing to Number Five Gully, Ben Nevis
Have you always pursued mountain sports or did it come with the photography?
I moved up to Scotland to study Engineering. Five years of not working quite as hard as I should have was followed by one year of knuckling down for a Masters degree. This eventually led me to a graduate job working for Scottish and Southern Electricity. Whilst I was there I got caught up in the Scottish backcountry skiing scene, so much of my free time was spent out exploring the Highlands on skis. I was lucky to have a very understanding boss who would let me take days off at the last minute when good conditions prevailed. Sometimes even this wasn’t enough though, and when the days got longer in spring I’d often find myself getting up at a stupid time of the morning to fit in a ski before work. At the same time I was getting inspired by a lot of the photos I’d see online from established adventure photographers based in places like Chamonix or North America. I’d take my camera out on my ski missions to try and emulate what they were doing. At some point there was a changeover, where rather than just being something I did whilst out skiing, the photography became the main drive behind my mountain days.
How did you make the step from your postgraduate job to becoming a freelance photographer?
I can remember quite clearly the first time I considered making a career out of it. I was on the chairlift at Nevis range with a friend, heading up for a run down the Back Corries and somehow the conversation got onto other outdoor photographers. I can remember Kev suggesting that my photos were good enough to become professional if I wanted to. Looking back I know full well that at that stage my photos weren’t nearly good enough, but that planted the seed in my head. As I began to work harder on my photography, I started to entertain the idea more seriously. Eventually it reached the point where I knew I needed to have a go, otherwise I’d likely spend the rest of my life wondering what if. It took me a further six months to pluck up the courage to take the plunge. That was nearly three years ago now and I’ve not looked back!
"I wanted to get on a rope slightly below where Tim was going to jump,
as catching him in freefall would give a really immersive photo."
What is your favourite location to shoot?
I hope to go on more expeditions to the Greater Ranges in the future, but I think the Scottish Highlands will always have a big appeal for me. For one, the scenery we have in Scotland is quite unique compared to other mountain ranges in the world. It’s incredibly photogenic. Secondly, you can go out in Scotland in winter and feel like you’ve had a really full-on day, despite the mountains perhaps not being as big or committing as in other parts of the world. There’s an attitude in Scotland in winter that you go out even if the forecast isn’t great (otherwise you probably wouldn’t get much done over the course of a winter!). You simply layer up and go out and get on with it!
Willis Morris and Tim Howell on the Arête du Diable, Mont Blanc du Tacul
Tim Howell on the Trident du Tacul