The Portrait of the Wise Guys

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Photography by Evija Laiviņa Inverness, 2022

The Portrait of The Wise Guys

In 2021, while doing the artist residence at the Highland Print Studio, I was introduced to the Wise Guys. They were my first photography students.

The Wise Guys are a group of men aged 50 and over who meet every Wednesday morning at the Highland Print Studio learning new creative skills and bonding over coffee and cookies. The group was first formed in 2011, in response to research by Age UK and other organisations, which demonstrated that older men do not engage with social activity to the same extent as women and could be at risk of loneliness and isolation. Ten years on, the group is still going strong, with some of the original Wise Guys still developing their printmaking skills and have joined the Studio as independent printmakers.

As I got to know the Wise Guys more, I learned how amazing, talented and optimistic they are, and so I made the decision to photograph them. It’s been 10 years since they got together, so it was a big deal, plus I wanted to learn darkroom techniques at the same time. Moreover, I have never before included male subjects in my photography projects.

This project was slow and full of errors. I made every single error imaginable with film photography and the darkroom; I accidentally exposed the film, had problems developing, accidentally shot with a completely empty camera, etc. Half of these were photographed on 120 mm Ilford HP5+, and the other half were shot digitally, but in the end, I have this project. They were all shot at my studio at the Inverness Creative Academy. Photos were developed and scanned at Inverness Darkroom.

Howard Tony
The Wise Guys
This is a Culture Collective project, funded by Scottish Government through Creative Scotland.