Last September, I had the amazing opportunity to photograph a project called the Tea Gardens of Scotland spread across houses and farms in Perthshire, Fife and Angus. After making dozens of wet weather plans, the week turned out to be absolutely superb and the imagery worked out perfectly. I had a wonderful time working with all these inspirational ladies and I hope to return soon to find their project grown into a hugely successful business and to drink lots more gorgeous Scottish tea!
Tea Gardens of Scotland Marketing Photography
When you think of people who grow tea or where the Brit’s favourite cuppa comes from, your mind’s eye probably travels across the globe to the remote reaches of Sri Lanka, Assam or South East China.
Well, mine did anyway. But last summer, I received a call from a group calling themselves the Tea Gardens of Scotland.
At that point in their development, they were a seedling of an organization. But, the growers obviously had big ambitions. Ambitions that were demonstrated by their enthusiasm and commitment for the seemingly uphill challenge of growing tea from seed in the difficult Scottish climate.
My brief was to photograph the growers, who are all women, with their young plants and capture a little bit of the character of the person who are prepared to take on such a challenge. I wanted to show the individual personalities in the context of their beautiful, walled gardens and the wider Scottish surroundings they inhabit. The pictures were intended to form of collection of marketing imagery that the group could draw on for all their marketing purposes.
As it turned out, the conditions were glorious and probably not so different to the hill stations of the Himalayas. I had a fascinating week of traveling around Scotland, photographing at some amazing locations and comparing the different methods of each grower. Their individual approaches varied with the soil, prevailing wind, rainfall, aspect and, in one case, the path the frost flows down!
I drank lots of different cups of delicious Scottish tea on the way and found myself happily falling into the lingo of the tea grower…. “The astringency of that one is a bit lively on the tongue, slurp.” or, “Slurp, the aroma of this one is beautifully fragrant on the nose.”
On the final day of the shoot, we all came together at the Scottish Tea Factory in Comrie, Perthshire. I got to photograph the entire group together as they drank tea, handled tea, smelled tea and of course, talked tea!
Overall, my time spent with the ladies of the Tea Gardens of Scotland was nothing short of fantastic. Scotland was looking as beautiful as ever and the people I met were truly amazing. The fact that they’re taking on this challenge of growing tea with such determination and heart is astonishing and makes me proud to have played a very small part at this early stage of their project. I’d like to thank all of the women who shared their story with me. All your amazing hard work will pay off very soon, I’m sure!