I was born and have always lived in a little Scottish town called Motherwell. Motherwell, shall we say, is not exactly home to creative careers. Most would agree that it is a town full of hard working people who work in that 9-5 grind.
That was me once. I used to work in banking for around 7 years until one day I got the message that my job was no longer required. Redundancy! That word is like a curse word in my town. At first I was a bit worried but I was always into photography and I thought to myself now is the time to throw myself into it and see what can happen.
I guess coming from a small-town in Scotland drove me into the creative side of things. Creativity allowed me to escape a little bit from the small-town culture and express myself through my work. Art isn’t a real job where I am from. It’s a generational thing. You have to prove to people look I can and will make a career out of this.
I am 25 years old in May. What I would say to anyone who wants to take on the freelance photography career is that it’s hard work. The money can get difficult but doing what you love has unbelievable rewards and I will do it for the rest of my life.
I was always pretty smart at school and whatnot but I never committed to education. I was more interested in having a good time with my friends. That still reflects in my personality today. I’m just here to have a smashing time and take some awesome photography in the process.
In the last year or so there has been an epidemic in our region for men and suicide. It really opened my eyes to how short life can be. Why not chase your dreams and do what you want to do? I work to raise awareness around these issues but unfortunately the problem is much bigger than a bloke from Motherwell can handle.
I wish people would try and do what makes them happy. The world would be a much more fulfilling place. Free Solo climber Alex Honnold said: “Nothing great in life comes from being cosy”. I want to live life on the edge doing what I love. It isn’t easy but it’s unbelievably fun. I want to die at 100 years old, not thinking of how much money I’ve made but thinking of all the experiences I’ve had and places I’ve visited.
Finding Freedom in the Wild Glens of the Highlands
I’m obsessed with capturing Scotland – it’s as simple as that. You know, Scotland is just free. The wind in your hair and the elements hitting you hard really does help the soul. Scotland will provide 10 seasons in one day. You can leave the house to dark clouds and pouring rain, then get a 10-minute spell of glorious light, then back to rain.
Scotland’s nature cannot be matched anywhere in the world. Mountains will dwarf any ego and person. Everyone becomes so small and equal when compared to the giants – exactly the way it should be. I love the feeling of being away from social media and out in the wilderness with the Scottish fresh air in my lungs. It’s more than enough to free the mind.
One of my favourite regions in Scotland is the Highlands. A place where the skies are massive, the landscapes are carved out by mountains and wildlife lives in harmony with nature. Free from pollution and the rush of the city — just pure truthful beauty. I challenge anyone to drive the A82 and not feel free from stress, even if it’s only for a couple of hours.
It’s funny because the majority of Scottish people simply don’t realise how beautiful we have it. Drive only one hour from the city and you can be amongst natural beauty that some only dream of. It’s a special place to me because it gives me the freedom to switch off and clear my mind.
A few weeks back I was shooting some portraits up in Glen Etive – an area made famous from the James Bond Skyfall film. The River Etive rises on the peaks surrounding Rannoch Moor, with several streams coming together at Glen Coe. The weather was a bit rough and I ended up getting soaked to the bones with sideways rain hitting me from every angle. Nothing beats it!
If I had to recommend a few places that tourists must visit in Scotland they would be Glen Coe/Etive, the Isle of Skye and the North Coast 500. The road to Skye is called A82 and it drives through some of the most scenic regions that our country has to offer. I would say it’s one of the best road trips in the world!
Watching the Sunset over the Castle on the Hill
The great thing about Scotland is the rich history that is steeped in the landscapes, villages and cities throughout the country. Isle of Skye is one of my favourite places when it comes to Scottish heritage. The rugged rock pinnacles of ‘Old Man of Storr’ and the stunning landscapes of Quiraing are not to be missed, especially during golden hour.
You simply can’t visit Scotland without seeing a couple of castles that bless this land. We have hundreds of castles on offer — from the scenic tower house of Castle Stalker to the formidable Kilchurn Castle built by the Campbell’s of Glenorchy. One of the country’s most popular castles is Eilean Donan Castle which sits majestically between three sea lochs.
I think the most photogenic castle in all of Scotland is the Dunnottar Castle located on a rocky headland on the north-eastern coast. Dunnottar played a big role in the history of Scotland all the way through to the 18th century Jacobite risings. This epic castle sits on a cliff-top overlooking the sea and is a photographer’s dream!
Another must-see historic destination is the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This place will blow your mind especially if you are a Harry Potter fan. I also have an affinity for Fiddle Bow Rock, Falls of Falloch, Mull of Galloway, the list goes on! There are a few cool mountains to hike in Scotland too such as Buachaille Etive Mor with views down to Glen Coe/Etive.
Lastly, I would recommend visiting Loch Lomond and Ned Lomond which are very special places for those wanting to see traditional Scotland. Luss is a lovely wee village that sits on the west bank of the Loch. Along these country roads you will find hidden gems around every corner. Sometimes when you take a wrong turn the best things can happen!
Sharing a Beer and Whisky with a Local Scotsman
Scotland is like everywhere else in the world when it comes to people. The vast majority will welcome you with open arms and will be happy to have a chat. The further north you go the more you escape the cities and the more you escape the trouble. Like anywhere there is always badness but that’s just a tiny percentage of the people.
Agriculture is still a massive thing here and there is also a large drinking culture in Scotland. The majority like having a couple of beers too many – which I am also guilty of from time to time. But hey, I’m only human! When you travel to Scotland you will be welcomed by the community, offered a beer or two and the chat will last for hours.
The other famous drink in Scotland is of course whisky. According to Lonely Planet, whisky is experiencing a boom not seen since the 1890’s! I think the introduction of the James Bond film to Scotland has definitely helped the cause. Macallan Whisky was used in the films and I believe some of the older years’ bottles are selling for fortunes. One bottle went for a staggering £45,000!
Diageo, who are a massive drinks company in the UK, recently backed £150,000,000 into the Scottish Whisky Industry too, which is having a massive impact on the boom. A lot of whisky used in Hollywood movies is also helping the cause. I recently read that some of the Japanese market is selling out of a certain type of whisky due to the movie Lost in Translation.
Of course, accompanying any great Scottish beverage will be some mouth-watering food! Haggis is my favourite dish but there are a few others you must try. Fish and Chips are ever so popular – I mean who doesn’t love deep-fried fish. Talking about deep-fried, Mars Bars have famously been deep fried. Some places in Scotland will deep fry anything if you ask nicely.
With that in mind, I hope to see you in Scotland one day where we can enjoy a couple of beers and share some good hearty Scottish food together.