Sandie swaps the sound of music for the power of pictures
It was a case of swapping speaker sounds for shutter speeds as Sandie Maciver said goodbye to 35 years entertaining island music-lovers and hello to a new career as a wedding photographer.
Known musically both as a solo artist and with The 101 Band, Sandie, had been a regular sight in pubs and clubs the length and breadth of the Western Isles for many years.
It was in part travelling through the island landscapes that led to her interest in photography. After buying a new camera, Sandie then celebrated her first wedding shoot and was hooked, going on to study the subject and earning a Photography Diploma with Distinction.
“It really was going back and forth to the Uists to play that I started taking pictures of the landscape,” said Sandie. “And then I got really into photographing the auroras.
“What got me started was people were buying the photos and from that I also did some press work for magazines and papers.
“Now I'm specialising in weddings as from the ones that I've done I really enjoy the work,” she continued. “It's great fun and very enjoyable. I like talking to anyone, so I like the social element.
“I speak with the couple beforehand to tailor my work to what they want, and it's great after everything to be able to deliver those happy memories.”
Although packing up her guitar for public performances, Sandie herself has many happy memories of three-and-a-half decades of entertaining the islands and beyond.
“It's been a great life,” she said. “I've met so many people and got to travel.
“It might be hard for people to believe, but I wasn't really that confident, and the music helped give me that. I do remember the first time I ever had to sing on stage though – our singer had a sore throat so I had to take over; I did it but I had to stand with my back to the audience!”
It was during school years at The Nicolson Institute secondary school in Stornoway that Sandie joined her first band, 'Profile': “It was our Friday afternoon activity,” she remembers. “Fridays were a great day as we had double art and then the afternoon activities and for me, that meant off to band.”
Her band activities graduated to form first 'Room 101', originally with Sandie's Hearach cousin Carla MacVicar on vocals, Callum 'Fizak' Macdonald on drums, Sandie on guitar and Angus 'Angie' Murray on bass.
Morphing into 'The 101 Band', and another Hearach cousin Donna Morrison was brought in as singer, with Malcolm 'Bessie' Macleod now on drums.
Dorothy MacSween then took over vocals from Donna, and over the years musicians Rod Morrison, John Murray, Murdo 'Gress' Maclennan, Chris Martin, Willie Macleod, Alex Tearse, and pipers Anna Murray, Audrey MacKenzie and Alice MacLean have each taken a stint on stage with 101.
And the band were known by wider audiences during the late 1980s/90s through music videos and performances on the first ever Gaelic youth TV series 'Brag' (Impact); as well as a tour to Glasgow and around Scotland.
Sandie later went on to perform more and more as a solo artist – after another confidence boost brought on by late band members: “We [The 101 Band] were playing in the Bernera Hall one night and the boys were running late in coming over,” said Sandie.
“They were going to be around an hour late, so for the first time I went on stage on my own and I managed the hour till they turned up. That was the start of me doing solo gigs really.”
With so many musical memories to choose from, one of Sandie's favourites was during her time with 101. “We were playing at Bayble beach, at the Ceol na Mara music festival,” she recalled. “The place was heaving and it was a really good gig, but then the generator packed in and the power went off.
“Bessie just carried on drumming though and the crowd picked up along with the singing. We were all there down by the sea, in the dark, no speakers, just the drums and the crowd in full voice – it was brilliant!”
“I will miss the music but you can't move forward if you stay stuck where you are,” she said, adding with a chuckle: “Plus, the speakers are getting heavier and heavier!”
To find out more about Sandie's wedding photography, please visit www.sandiephotos.com