In Black Dots, Nicholas White takes us to the mountain bothies of Scotland, Whales, and Northern England, mixing landscape and portrait photography to give us a sort of Alec Soth-indebted view of bothies and the (mostly) men who occupy them.
A bothy is a place of temporary lodging, freely available to all, nestled mostly in remote parts of Scotland, Wales, and Northern England. Traditionally, these were used by gardeners on large estates, or by deerstalkers or fishermen, and they vary in size and complexity, from rather grand-looking farmhouses to little shacks, and they mostly sit in idyllic landscapes, seemingly far from civilization.
White spent three years travelling to, staying in, and documenting these structures and their visitors, and the traces left behind, with a 4×5 camera, on Portra 400.
Trekking to a remote bothy with my Crown Graphic monorail sounds like it could be done, if I keep going to the gym 3-4 days a week for the next two or three years, and while it would give beautiful results, I bet White used something somewhat more portable, something that could maybe fit in a backpack, not that it matters. But I just had a vision of lugging my 4×5 and Gitzo tripod on a 14 hour hike to a remote mountain bothy in Scotland, and despaired.
Another Place Press did a beautiful job with Black Dots, as they do with all their publications. For well-produced, accessible landscape photography, their publications can hardly be beat, and Black Dots is no exception. The photography inside is solid, with beautifully composed landscapes, intimate interiors, and portraits that come together in much the same way as, say, Sleeping By The Mississippi.
Overall, I give Black Dots a solid four stars. Shame that it’s out of print. Perhaps Another Place Press might consider a second edition?
Black Dots received an impressive amount of coverage in 2017 and 2018. It earned White a win in the Lens Culture Emerging Talent Awards for 2017, and was featured in the British Journal of Photography, Document Scotland, and F-Stop, to mention just a few. And White appeared on Jon Wilkening’s Creative Bar, talking about the project in particular, and his general approach to photography, and it’s definitely worth a listen.
White’s website is a wealth of excellent landscape and documentary photography, and the section on the Black Dots project includes the photographs and an explanatory text, and White is active on Twitter and Instagram if you want to give him a follow. He mentions another project in the works in 2018, so keep your eyes open. If it ends up as good as Black Dots, you’ll want to jump on it when it appears.