Glasgow Based Photographer Gillian Hayes Photographs a Home in the Heart of Cairngorms National Park

Glasgow Based Photographer Gillian Hayes Photographs a Home in the Heart of Cairngorms National Park

Project of the Week

Every now and again you come across photographs of a project that completely stops you in your tracks. Gillian Hayes of Dapple Photography‘s photos of Lower Tullochgrue by Brown & Brown Architects was that project for me lately. As we drift into the holiday season, this feels like the perfect Project of the Week – frosty, snowy scenery, warm inviting interiors, and quiet moments crafted by Gillian make this series stand out to me.

Gillian is based in Glasgow and works across Scotland and the UK, and this is her second commission by Brown & Brown’s studio. Their project Lower Tullochgrue “is the complete refurbishment and extension of this historic cottage in Rothiemurchus, near Cairngorm Mountain–in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.”

The addition is comprised of blackened steel, glass, and timber. The new structure sits on a stone plinth made from the original stone refurbished from the demolition of a derelict structure sitting next to Lower Tullochgrue’s original house. Additional stone was needed while expanding the plinth, and the local quarry that supplied the original stone for the homestead was re-opened to allow the identical stone to be used identically matched stone to be used. How cool is that?

Gillian has done a masterful job of connecting this house to the important environment around it. Her compositions tie the addition to the land, while also suspending it effortlessly above it. Each photo is full of character and includes thoughtful details that give us a sense of place – and a sense of wonder.

“The elevational view with the car sums up so many beautiful elements from the project; context with the views across the Cairngorms & trees around, the cantilever and simple form of the new extension supported by a slender V shaped pillar, the workmanship of the reclaimed stone and the homeowners’ grandparent’s cherished 1960’s Ford Falcon,” Gillian shares. “What’s not visible are the sounds of animals and birds around me, pheasants dashing behind me, red squirrels in trees, all very memorable.

It’s quite a simple view technically using natural light on a tripod, just waiting for the right light to hit and windows to defrost. The tricky part was getting the Ford Falcon down an icy hill!”

“I was on location over two days and the biggest challenges were the weather and available daylight hours, we also had an award deadline looming. The days are so short in Scotland in January, but you do get some beautiful soft long light with the low sun, that creeps deep into a building,” she relays.

Gillian goes on, “The first day it was a white out and the second day although sunny later in the day it was ice cold in the morning – the windows, etc had quite a bit of condensation with the temperature difference, so I needed to wait until much later in the day for some views. Although I start a shoot with a timeline of views in my head, learning to adapt and be flexible is so important to overcome any unexpected changes and not miss beautiful light changes.”

I told Gillian how much I adore how quiet each of these shots are while still being infused with some life. As you scroll through notice the fire roaring, the car in the drive, the rhythm of the stacked logs, etc. I asked her if the snowy weather inform the mood of the shoot at all?

Gillian replied, “I think the snow and frost did inform the mood. I personally like to work alone on a shoot as I feel it allows me to be completely present in the building and react to how it presents itself on the day. I’m lucky that Brown & Brown Architects were very trusting and just left me to it to photograph and rearrange anything to suit a frame.”

A perfect one-point perspective chock full of leading lines drives our eyes straight through the frame and out the enormous window. Cool color tones and a darker trending image give off plenty of mood.

I appreciate how Gillian gives us a mix of close, intimate images that chunk down the details of Tullochgrue, and then back out to show us the full scope of each space without giving too much away.

Well-timed and well-lit compositions include patches of light that add warmth and dimensionality to each scene. We can feel the heat of the sunlight mixing with the frosty cool shadows, all through our screens.

Gillian showcases the functionality of this secret bookcase door. It adds life and purpose to this set that is just wonderful!

Sitting in the national park, Tullochgrue is truly surrounded by nature. Gillian captures this perfectly, including the Cairngorms’ mountain range and forests in almost every frame. We are able to understand the house in the context of its environment. It really adds to the magic of this place!

I especially love the photographs of Tullochgrue at dusk. With the warm light radiating out of the house against the stark blues of the landscape, there is a very cinematic feeling about these shots. The house appears as a beaconing refuge from the elements and draws us in, both visually and emotionally.

A massive thank you to Gillian Hayes for sharing this set with us! What an absolutely stunning project!

Each and every one of Gillian’s projects is an absolute beaut, so head on over to and give her a follow on Instagram

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

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