People of Midlothian: Stephen Ball


Stephen Ball photographer. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Sofia Villegas

In the second of a series of feature interviews with people in Midlothian reporter Sofia Villegas met with Midlothian photographer Stephen Ball.

Stephen Ball, a multi-award-winning photographer, has called Midlothian home for the last 25 years. Originally from London, he moved to Scotland in his early twenties. Although he settled down in the area for love, bearing it is where he met his wife, the local settings have helped him build a national reputation in the industry. Capturing a photograph of a poppy field ‘literally around the corner’ from where he lives, as he explained, led him to win the commended award for UK landscape photography of the year, which then went on a national tour.


Poppy Field. UK landscape photography of the year. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography

In 1996, Ball graduated as a Theatre & Lightning Designer and shortly after began working in London’s West End. When he first moved to Edinburgh, he used to work for the theatre industry, yet was unfortunately made redundant.

Photography runs in the family. His father-in-law was a Canon sales representative and a photography lecturer and, his wife used to be the manager of a camera shop. However, his interest in grabbing shots started long before this coincidence. “I guess looking back, even when I was a kid, I had a bit of an interest in it, because I went off to Yosemite National Park in America and really enjoyed taking photographs there. And, that was back when it was filmed, so you’d have like ten films, put into boots, and then wait a fortnight to see what you’ve got,” he explained.

Much to my surprise, all he knows is widely self-taught. A mixture of innate talent and strong dedication. “I used to go to a camera club in Penicuik, that my father-in-law started back in 1985 but it’s mostly just a lot of trial and error. I entered competitions and got feedback, looked at YouTube videos and magazines over the years,” he says. Talking further on his key to success, he added, “I’m not one of these photographers that shoots and automatically lets the camera do it. I’m always a believer in trying to get it right in the camera. I used to take hundreds if not thousands of photos, but now, I spend more time getting it right in the camera.”

Full of remarkable castles and breathtaking viewpoints, Scotland has become the gift that keeps on giving to Ball’s photography. “Scotland’s just got so much and it’s not too far to travel to, which I think is quite good. There are so many different spots, and locations across Scotland, it’s fascinating to go and photograph. I enjoy photographing places that people recognise because I sell a lot of my prints around the world,” he commented. Ball’s art has reached 26 countries.


Dalkeith Country Park. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography

He has won the commended award for UK’s best landscape three years in a row, and the commended award for Scottish best landscape twice, yet he acknowledges how difficult it is to make it in the industry. Speaking about his most recent commended award, he said, “I submitted about 35 images to the UK landscape photographer of the year commended award. And there are thousands of entries across the UK. It gives you a bit of reassurance that your photography is correct. It’s getting that sort of recognition.”

On top of the numerous commended awards, Ball already enjoyed recognition from a sold-out book – an album inspired by the Scottish landscape. However, this is just the beginning of a great career, as he is set to host ten talks across the UK next year and release a second book this upcoming summer.

Ball currently works for the government, yet looks forward to the moment his passion becomes his full-time job. “I’m hoping one day that this might let me reduce my full-time hours and do this a wee bit more,” he added.

You can see more of Stephen’s work at

People of Midlothian: Provost Debbi McCall


Midlothian Council Provost Debbi McCall.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Katie Gregory

In the first of a series of feature interviews with prominent people in Midlothian reporter Katie Gregory met with the Provost.

In May of 2022, SNP Councillor Debbi McCall was elected as the Midlothian Council Provost. Council Leader Kelly Parry nominated McCall and the vote was unanimous. Unbeknownst to us all, only months four months after her election – Provost McCall would stand outside the Dalkeith Corn Exchange and proclaim King Charles III as the new sovereign. This would be a defining moment for Provost McCall, as 300 locals gathered for the ceremony. Although this was certainly unexpected for her, Provost McCall took this in her stride and used the opportunity to show her strong and unwavering dedication to Midlothian.

Prior to her political career, McCall worked as a Welfare Rights Officer. Her job choice suggests that even before she worked as a Councillor, McCall wanted to support those who needed it the most. While studying at Stirling University in 2013, academic work was paired with personal reflection for McCall as she contemplated her political position and beliefs. With 2008 Labour frequently using the term “scroungers” – it was becoming increasingly difficult for McCall to differentiate between Labour and Tory rhetoric. After the 2014 Independence Referendum and careful consideration of her personal beliefs, McCall joined Women For Independence and then the SNP.

McCall was elected as Councillor for Penicuik in May of 2017 and has a close relationship with her constituents. When asked how she balances her responsibilities as Provost of Midlothian and Councillor for Penicuik – McCall explained how she sees the two as completely separate and it is clear she views both positions as equally important. As the interview continues, it becomes evidently clear why her constituents feel comfortable addressing their concerns to her – as her understanding nature is paired with a drive for change.

“I have had a long-running battle with Lothian buses about the return of the number 15 bus. Roads, lines on the roads and potholes are what the vast majority of people want to talk to me about”.

However, this motivation for change is not limited to transport, as McCall discusses diversity within Scottish politics. McCall praises the women around her; including Council Leader Kelly Parry, the first Female Provost Eleanor Mcloughin and the first Female Provost for Dumfries and Galloway, Tracey Little. Provost McCall also values intersectionality greatly and encourages all members of her community to get involved in local-level politics.

“We want representation from disabled people and ethnic minorities. We need to reflect our community.”

Furthermore, McCall talks of Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson – politicians who have conflicting beliefs but are positive role models for young women nonetheless. Following in their footsteps, McCall, Parry and Little could be just the role models needed for the next generation of Scottish women in politics.