Photographer Samuel Howard brings Scotland's surf scene into focus with Glasgow exhibition

A new exhibition of work by surf photographer Samuel Howard offers a well-rounded view of the Scottish surfing experience, writes Roger Cox

He has captured memorable portraits of some of Scotland’s most notable surfers for his online project In Scotland We Surf, and now photographer Samuel Howard is holding his first solo exhibition, Our Scottish Seas, at the Alchemy Experiment on Glasgow’s Byres Road.

As well as portraits of members of the Scottish wave-riding community – notably Fraserburgh pioneer Willie Tait, who was one of the first to surf in the north-east more than half a century ago – the exhibition also includes some of Howard’s breathtaking water shots.

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Some of these, like Crack a Cold One, offer a close-up view of surfers riding waves of serious consequence, while others, such as Northern Fire, show unridden waves in the magical moment of breaking.

Detail of Sam Howard's Portrait of Scottish surfing pioneer Willie Tait PIC: Samuel HowardDetail of Sam Howard's Portrait of Scottish surfing pioneer Willie Tait PIC: Samuel Howard
Detail of Sam Howard's Portrait of Scottish surfing pioneer Willie Tait PIC: Samuel Howard

Many of the images are more meditative, however, sharing the unique perspectives surfers enjoy while sitting in the water waiting for waves. In Whitesands, for example, the tip of the Barns Ness Lighthouse near Dunbar is partly visible above an oncoming band of swell; Oyster Catcher, meanwhile, shows the titular bird skimming above the surface of the waves at what could be either sunrise or sunset.

Taken together, the images in the exhibition combine to give a well-rounded view of the surfing experience – not just the pure adrenaline hit of the act itself, but an insight into the quiet moments of contemplation in between waves, and also a sense of the many characters that make up Scotland’s diverse surfing community. The show also incorporates video work, which offers an atmospheric glimpse into the partially-submerged life of the water photographer.

Born and raised near Aberdeen, Howard first became interested in photography after purchasing a camera to record memories of a surf trip to Africa. His ongoing project, In Scotland We Surf, aims to capture the Scottish surfing community and its history through a series of portraits. Significant surfers featured so far include Scottish national champion Craig McLachlan and big wave expert Ben Larg.

Our Scottish Seas runs until 5 November, all the work on show is for sale, and a percentage of the profits will be donated to the charity Wave Project Scotland, which takes vulnerable and disadvantaged children to the ocean to build their confidence and mental well-being.

For more information on Our Scottish Seas, see

You can find Sam Howard on Instagram at s.howard_photo