John MacPherson Photography


Inside the Fort' was a photographic project I devised and supervised whilst in Social Work Disability Services. The participants, Malcolm McPhee and Tommy Sutherland, were two men who had been marginalised by society because of their physical appearance and perceived intellectual difficulties. Neither man had any photographic experience.

At the time both men were in the process of moving into community living facilities and I hoped this project would allow them to meet the people who would form their support structure. The aim of the project was to explore the interconnected web of occupations that support all of us in the community, and was designed to allow those members of the public to see the two men involved in a complex and worthwhile activity which I hoped might help break down barriers.

I guessed this would work if we were careful and consistent, and it did, and all the participants enjoyed the interactions we had as the men photographed them. However I was completely unprepared for the quality of the images that resulted.

The portraits are astonishing, the compositions for the most part show evidence of real talent and that elusive 'eye' that we photographers always talk about. The work won the two men several major Arts awards, appearances on tv, radio and in the press. The work was eventually toured nationally by The Scottish Arts Council as part of their small scale touring arts series.

Launched formally at the Filmhouse Theatre in Edinburgh, it elicited many comments of praise and congratulation in the visitors book. One comment summed it up, from a professional photographer, who wrote.....

"I have earned a living with cameras for over 30 years, and having seen this exhibition I now realise I cannot call myself a photographer...."

Malcolm wrestled with epilepsy, amongst other problems, for most of his adult life, and sadly died a few years ago as a result of a serious seizure which had left him badly impaired. I had known Malcolm since I was 10 years old. He was not only a splendid photographer, but I am proud to say he was my friend. Tommy also died fairly recently after a short illness.

This online gallery is dedicated to their memory, and to express my gratitude to both men for the knowledge and pleasure I gained from working with them.

Commissioned Work

Personal Work

The Moving Image






Malcolm McPhee


Tommy Sutherland