Weaver Donald John McKay was appointed MBE (Member of the British Empire) by the Queen in 2011 for his work in reviving Harris Tweed after Nike chose one of his patterns for some limited edition trainers. He has been a weaver for more than 40 years.
Scotland - Photo Tip

When no drama led to a wee dram

Photo by Paul Tomkins

Scotland - Photo Tip When no drama led to a wee dram

Single track roads and amazing scenery caused me to be late at Donald John McKay’s, a weaver on the island of Harris who won an order for tweed cloth from Nike.

Robin McKelvie
Robin McKelvie

I knew he worked from a shed beside one of the world’s most famous beaches and hoped to get a shot that connected him weaving with the landscape. However, when I arrived I saw that idea would not work.

He had finished weaving for the day and, as we got chatting, I was working out how best to compose the shot. I knew time was of the essence and, while keeping up some banter, quickly set up. It’s important to get folk relaxed and I like to start talking to people before getting the camera out, keeping a light-hearted conversation going.

Whisky, banter and good company

He was just tying up a bale of tweed, ready to send off for processing. The place was a bit cluttered and, for a commercial shoot, I would have asked to tidy it up but sensed he was proud of his space and knew that if I wanted him on my side, I shouldn’t move anything.

I was looking for a relaxed expression and after only a few frames I knew I had it. As I packed up, he invited me into the kitchen for a wee dram of whisky. Whisky, banter and good company – the perfect way to end a shoot.

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