Marc Millon reflects on Farmer in Red Turban, by Hamish Scott-Brown.
The daily task of collecting food to eat – growing, gathering, fishing, hunting, foraging, harvesting – is fundamental to human life and existence. This task can be at once mindlessly repetitive, demanding endless patience, or at the same time heroic and triumphant, the human satisfaction that comes simply from providing sustenance. The photographs in this category illustrate not only a rich and ingenious range of human activities but also an equally rich and varied portrayal of human emotions. There is beauty and there is the hardness, the harsh reality of the rigours and effort that such activities require.
Hamish Scott-Bown’s ‘Farmer in red turban with flock’ represents a classic, timeless scene, a shepherd walking down a road together with his flock of sheep. The strength of this image is in its perfect composition, the diagonals of the mountain slope in the background, and the line of sheep in the foreground converge perfectly at the point of the shepherd’s magnificent red turban. If he were to be a step forward, or to the left or right, the photograph would lose its majestic beauty. As it is, it is perfect. The posture of the shepherd is statuesque. Though evidently poor, as one assumes shepherds must be, he is richly attired, bedecked in jewellery, draped white clothing that could have been carved out of marble, and topped by the ornately twisted, deep red of the turban. He appears to be someone who has carried out this quotidian task every day of his long life and he seems completely at ease and comfortable, embraced by the beauty of a majestic landscape.