The light, the wildlife and the sheer natural beauty of South Uist capture the heart of photographer Jef Martin on a daily basis – a passion he shares with his thousands of Instagram followers.
It was a summer work placement back in 1999 that first introduced Frenchman Jef Martin to the Outer Hebrides.
‘When I arrived, I fell in love with Uist straight away. I thought that everything was amazing,’ he says.
Now a part-time crofter with wife Kathryn, as well as postmaster at South Uist’s Daliburgh Post Office, Jef has embraced island life.
‘I love everything about living here. If I want to escape to the big natural world, I just have to put on my boots and go for a long walk on the beach for three, four, five hours… The natural world is on my doorstep.’
Three years ago, Jef started taking photographs of croft life and his stunning surroundings using a camera he had bought for his wife. ‘She didn’t find the time to use it. I’m not sure why I took the camera out that day, but I enjoyed just taking pictures around the croft, and I kept going, whatever the weather.’
That initial interest turned into a visual diary of daily life on the croft and its surrounds. Originally intended for family in France, Jef’s images have built up such an interest on Instagram that he has introduced several thousand followers to life on Uist too. The couple recently installed a Storm Pod on their croft land, which provides compact rental accommodation in the stunning location.
‘It was very nice last summer when I met four or five people from Instagram who came to see me, Jef says. ‘A lot of people who come here want to see wildlife and get to know the place, so it helps to be in touch with local people.’
Despite regularly photographing the same subject matter, Jef’s images remain fresh and vibrant.
‘It is always different because of the light here, it changes all the time, on a daily basis, hour by hour. For example, this morning, there was a totally blue sky, very sunny, it felt like a nice spring day, now we’ve got clouds building, so it’s a different atmosphere.’
And even in winter the beauty of Uist remains. ‘The light here during the winter is amazing,’ Jef explains.
‘We get beautiful sunsets and sunrises from an amazing skyscape – sometimes it really is like living in another world.’
(This feature was originally published in 2016)