Capturing an estate in its year-round glory

Straloch Estate sits on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, a diverse and beautiful spot for visitors.

Photographer John MacPherson’s challenge was to capture the essence of this vast estate as a birthday gift for owner Lucy Holt from her husband Will.

‘I was approached to show the way the estate changes over the year,’ John explains. ‘It was rather nice because it was Lucy’s 40th birthday and her husband Will had asked if I would undertake this. I was sworn to secrecy.

‘The idea was that I would sneak about for the winter and spring shoots, Will would have these printed up and presented to Lucy for her birthday in the middle of the year, and then Lucy would be let in on the secret,’ he says.

Brought up on the estate, Lucy would then direct subsequent photography, which would be shaped by her reminiscences of the estate.

‘The first two shoots were done on the QT,’ John says. ‘The estate keeper was aware of my presence, but basically I had to get there and sneak about.’

Arriving in winter to snow, John struggled to reach the estate but it was all worth it. ‘Some of the shots were really dramatic looking out on the mix of farmland, woodland and mountains that surround the estate.’

Returning in spring, John captured the emerging greenery. Lucy accompanied him on the summer shoot, before he went off by himself again.

‘It’s that thing of letting someone with a fresh set of eyes take a look at something you are familiar with. It shows angles you may not have appreciated,’ John says.

The project rounds off with an autumn shoot before the estate gently slides back into winter.

Find out more about John’s work at

(This feature was originally published in 2016)