Hello, my name’s Neil McIntyre and I have been watching red squirrels for most of my life and photographing them for the last 30 years. I’ve probably spent more time in the company of squirrels than people. Brought up in what is now the Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands of Scotland I’ve always felt a special connection with my local forests, and with red squirrels in particular. Over the years, I’ve built up relationships with individual squirrels, and make no mistake, they are individuals, each one full of character and charm.
There was a time when red squirrels ranged throughout Scotland and much of the rest of Britain. But today, when I think about their future, my mind inevitably wanders to their forest home. Native woodland presently covers only 2% of Scotland’s land area so our red squirrel populations are isolated from each other. Without an expanded, connected woodland network, the squirrels remain imprisoned on islands of trees.
I’ve been dreaming of showcasing red squirrels in a book for many years and my collaboration with SCOTLAND: The Big Picture provides the perfect platform to realise that dream. The project’s aspiration to amplify the case for a wilder Scotland, resonates perfectly with this book as it seeks to not only celebrate this endearing mammal but to shine a light on the challenges it faces.
So here we are. The images have all been captured, Polly Pullar, who shares my love for red squirrels, has done a brilliant job writing the text so now, we just have to raise the funds to get the book in front of as many people as possible and that’s why I’m asking for your help.
What will the book look like?
It will of course be full of beautiful red squirrel images. It will also feature lots of images of the squirrel’s wild forest home. I hope the book will make you laugh and it might also make you cry. More than anything however, I want it to make you think. If we don’t work to restore and re-connect the red squirrel’s forest home, its future is uncertain and in Polly Pullar’s own words: “A world without the red squirrel’s endearing arboreal acrobatics is too catastrophic to contemplate.”
Beyond that, the specification for the book is:
- 240mm x 290mm landscape orientation
- 168 pages
- Printed on satin matt 150gsm FSC stock
Why should you help?
Self publishing a book is prohibitively expensive but I wanted to do it this way so that I can choose the images, I can decide on the design and I can personally ensure the book is produced to the very highest standards. I’ve invested so much time in this that I just don’t want to have to compromise by going down the conventional route of publishing. This campaign will ensure that the book is something I can be proud of, and that’s very important to me. Of equal importance is that I hope the production of this book will help in the quest to safeguard a future for red squirrels and their forest home.
Ways you can help
You can of course support the campaign by pledging to buy the book, a print or a personally guided squirrel photo safari in the Cairngorms. If you do any of these things, I’d be extremely grateful.
Perhaps equally important however, is to spread the word so any help via social media or just word of mouth would be massively appreciated. Myself and colleagues (Polly Pullar, Peter Cairns, Mark Hamblin, James Shooter) will be tweeting and posting on Facebook about red squirrels and the campaign over the next few weeks. It would be great if you could follow us and retweet and share to all your friends and followers.
I am working as part of the SCOTLAND: The Big Picture team who have managed this process before. We are aiming for a delivery date of late March/early April and all books purchased via this campaign will be signed and delivered shortly afterwards.
The official launch will be on Friday 28 April at Boat of Garten Community Hall, right in the heart of red squirrel country!
I really hope that with your help we can inform and inspire many more people about red squirrels and help expand their forest home. Any support you’re able to provide is hugely appreciated and if the squirrels could speak, I’m sure they’d thank you themselves!
**Prints can be chosen from the 4 images shown below:
Risks and challenges
The greatest challenge lies with producing the best quality book possible. However, the vast majority of the images have already been captured and of those that remain to be taken I am entirely confident that I will have all the necessary images to complete the book as scheduled.
The printing of the book is a crucial part of the process and there is always a risk that the images will not be reproduced as required. The services of David Brimble (www.davidbrimble.com), a professional Project Manager who has worked on numerous large-format photography books will therefore be engaged to carefully supervise the reproduction and printing process so that the overall quality of the book and the reproduction of the images is of the highest standard. Should a problem occur with the printing process then this will be dealt with as quickly as possible so that the scheduled publication date is not delayed. Should there be a delay of more than 2 weeks for any reason then those concerned will be advised accordingly.
In the event of illness or any other unforeseen circumstance arising that means that I am unavailable for the proposed dates of the workshops (Rewards 8 and 9) then an alternative date will be offered.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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