Skip to main content
Visit Scotland | Alba

As part of the Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21, we took a closer look at some of the businesses and organisations who made the most of the water wellness trend.

Margaret Soraya, photographer and owner of Quiet Landscapes, told us about the influence of Scotland’s coasts and waters on her work.

Tell us about your business and how it aligns to the Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21

Water is at the core of everything I do - all my photographic work revolves around water somehow. And that is because I am at my happiest and feel most connected to my art when in or around water. So, the images I create, the films I make, the paintings I paint and the way I live my life are all intrinsically linked - through water.

My connection to the coast began early on in childhood with summers spent by the sea in Holland. Swimming competitively at school, discovering surfing at university in South Wales where I would take my camera onto my surfboard to complete college projects. 

Moving from Wales up to north-western Scotland at aged twenty, I discovered that underwater cameras could reveal the clarity of that spectacular under-water world and fell in love with the coast there.  

As I moved to Loch Ness, I replaced surfing with paddle boarding and discovered wild swimming. I soon realised it helped with the migraines that I experienced due to a period of intense stress. The cold water eased the pain and left me feeling renewed and refreshed. 

My fine art photography work revolves around the coastal areas of Scotland, with a particular interest in the Islands and the lochs closer to my home in Drumnadrochit. I have exhibited in prestigious galleries such as the Bosham Gallery, Talla Na Mara on Harris, and Frankfurt, Germany. The exhibitions have been based around my affinity with water and with Scotland.

My photography business has been running for 17 years and I still photograph elopements on the beaches of Harris. But becoming more known in the past few years for my seascape work on the Hebrides, I have gained a following engaged enough to launch my business Quiet Landscapes four years ago. I lead retreats to remote, coastal or water-based locations in Scotland to teach photography. More recently, I pivoted further towards my passion and launched wild swimming and creative retreats.

By creating my new wild swim and creativity retreats, I combine my two great passions, both are interlinked, and both lead to a positive effect on well-being. The pilot wild swimming retreat this August was fully booked very quickly, and the signs to me are that this is exactly what people want and need.

Margaret Soraya wild swimming in Loch Ness (credit: Margaret Soraya, Quiet Escapes)



How does water wellness relate to your business and your customers?

Photography gives us the gift of being able to step momentarily into another world and be absorbed within nature. Studies show experiences in or of nature are beneficial to health and well-being. And being close to water further enhances the effect on our well-being. My customers come to my Scottish workshops and retreats to step back from their busy lives, enjoy the coast and lochs and spend time on creativity. I have added in wild swimming to go one step further and allow those interested in immersing in the waters of Scotland a safe, guided opportunity to do so. 

Creativity, nature, and being in the water are all interconnected in that they all promote well-being. 

The swimming on my retreats is non pressured dipping. The creative element is open to all. We are all creative in some way, even though we may not realise it. Whether that is simply enjoying taking photos or videos on your phone, journaling in the mornings, or enjoying sewing, knitting, drawing, or writing in the outdoors. My retreats are designed to nurture, allow space and time to explore creativity all based around water. I am an experienced open water swimmer, a qualified outdoor lifeguard, and first aid trained. I undertake swim safety courses regularly.

Pure white sands meet turquoise water on Luskentyre beach on Harris

How have you engaged with VisitScotland’s water wellness campaign?

Yes, I always tag my images with #YCW2021 and all my social posts are around water and well-being anyway. I have a following of wild swimmers and water lovers and also women who have or are suffering with chronic conditions relevant to this. I write articles as frequently as possible and produce videos around this subject. 

Discover more about Quiet Landscapes photography and creative retreats by visiting their website.

Related links