Radiographer Nick Crohn tells us about the photography community at NHS Orkney, and how photography is used as a relief in their down time.

Orkney is an archipelago of 70 islands that lies off the north coast of Scotland, around 20 of the islands are inhabited.  Orkney has a small community of around 20,000 and due to the remote and rural location the hospital is on the Orkney mainland. Employing around 600 staff in the hospital with other staff working in the community and across the islands.

We live and work on the islands within the hospital and community settings.  Lyndsey is a primary care Pharmacist, Penny is a Paediatric Physiotherapist and I am a Radiographer.  All of us have moved to Orkney to live, work and be part of the community, and as photographers we live in one of the most beautiful and photogenic locations.

Nick Crohn, Balfour Hospital

It is very hard to take a bad photo when you’re living up here, and the variety of subject matters keep us all going out to capture the world around us.  The landscapes change on a daily basis, with the tides, the weather, the seasons.

The wildlife changes throughout the year with migrant birds coming north and south and marine life coming here to breed and feed.  Orkney is a working community. Farming, fishing, tourism etc all have their seasons and offer their photographic opportunities throughout the year.

Penny Martin

Photography as relief

During the pandemic we have all struggled as clinical staff. We have not had many cases in Orkney, but our focus has been on keeping our community well and ensuring they have the care they need in a time of such uncertainty and fear.

Working in healthcare is never easy at the best of times, seeing the positives of a recovering patient is countered by the holding of a hand as someone passes away, despite our best efforts.  For all of us we struggle with that joy and sorrow every single day. But having something to bring you back peace of mind, to help you relax, to see the ebb and flow of the world around us and be able to capture that joy for someone else to experience helps keep our perspective.

Photography is something that has kept us positive through the pandemic, living in Orkney a short walk will bring you to such amazing sights as you are not far from wildlife, ancient monuments, stunning landscapes or the work of those on the land or sea.

Lyndsay Steel

“I’m a pharmacist by profession; my day job is based on accuracy and precision to ensure optimal patient care is delivered. I was a high-level gymnast in my youth; my evening hobby is coaching local aspiring gymnasts with the Orkney Gymnastics Club. A Glasgow Girl at heart, I have to admit that Orkney has won me over!”

“Photography has always been something I have enjoyed. Whilst I most definitely do not profess to be an expert, it brings just the perfect peace and calm I need in my busy, non-stop life. Being able to take a photo with my DSLR or just capture moments on my phone whilst on this island is, in all honesty, beyond my wildest dreams.

Day after day, in weathers of all kinds, there is something that sparks my interest to take a photo of in this beautiful landscape but my favourite photo’s mainly feature wildlife, sunset, or my pets.”

Penny Martin

“I moved to Orkney in 2007 in search of a new adventure in NHS and a better work life balance. Inspired by the sea, I initially started snorkelling and then took up Scuba diving. As a novice diver, I was amazed by, and wanted to capture, the unexpected beauty that I found underwater.”

“I purchased a compact camera with underwater housing and embarked on underwater photography.”

“It is certainly challenging. Manipulating the controls wearing neoprene gloves, trying to focus on a moving object when one is floating and being nudged by waves and tide is no easy feat.

Many UK divers travel abroad to see exotic marine life. Much fewer explore the cold and clear waters in Orkney to see the colours and beauty that there is underwater.”

Nick Crohn

“My wife and I moved here 2 years ago for a change in our pace of life.  We left the 3 hour commute in Yorkshire behind and opted for a 20 minute one in Orkney.

We had planned to move to Scotland when we retired but felt drawn to Orkney. We wanted to contribute to and become part of the community and enjoy this amazing place as much as we could….why wait!”

“I’ve been a photographer since I could hold a camera and Orkney is a paradise for me!  The long nights in winter mean sunsets and sunrises at a decent hour. The wildlife is all around us so sitting for days waiting for something to appear isn’t the be all and end all of wildlife photography here either.  The extremes of weather make for some spectacular landscapes, and the northern lights…..just step out of your front door.”

Pharmacist, Physiotherapist and Radiographer by vocation, photographers by passion! We hope our images have moved you and made you feel that you want to be part of this.

We are a small community and we are always looking for people to join us.  The three of us are all looking for new staff, for those who want to contribute to the health and well being of a community.

If you are a healthcare worker, looking for a change of pace or inspiration every day you set foot out of your door, there are job openings at NHS Orkney or Orkney Health and Care. View vacancies here.

Lyndsay Steel

Further reading

How photography can help your mental health

How to photograph Gannochy Gorge in Angus, Scotland: top tips and best locations

Photography saved my life: Photography as therapy