Inspired by the rugged landscape of Scotland, the Highland Collective is a group of photographers with a passion for showcasing everything their home country has to offer, including the unpredictable weather. After a pioneering trip to the Isle of Skye, they discuss their influences, inspiration and what makes a true pioneer.

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The Highland Collective explore the marshy plains of the Isle of Skye. Photo by Ross Dickie.

Ross Dickie

What makes the Scottish landscape so inspirational to photograph?

The fact that it changes so dramatically with the passing of the seasons. If you go somewhere like the Isle of Skye in winter and then return in summer, you'll have two very different experiences. When I was growing up, I hated the Scottish weather and couldn't wait until I was old enough to move somewhere warm and sunny. Even if there are still days when it gets me down, photography has definitely taught me to appreciate the vagaries of our climate a little bit more. 

What was your first experience with a camera?

Like a lot of people, my first experience of photography probably came on family holidays, when I would play about with disposable cameras on the beach or by the poolside. I had a couple of point-and-shoot digital cameras as a teenager, but I became more seriously interested in photography a couple of years ago. I feel like I still have a lot to learn, but it's great to be able to look back at old pictures and see how much I've improved over time.

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 The Fairy Pools Waterfall, Isle of Skye. Photo by Johnny Foy.

Johnny Foy

What moved you to build a career photographing Scotland?

I actually starting photographing places around Scotland as a kind of visual diary of the Munros I've done. The more Munros I worked on, the more remote and beautiful the places became. At the beginning, photographing Scotland's landscapes from the top of a mountain seemed amazing because not many people were doing it and I'd never seen these types of views or photographs anywhere else. However, as time progressed I spent more time taking shots of the places in and around the hills, such as the lochs, castles, roads and hills themselves, from the ground. Scotland has such a varied and beautiful landscape and is without doubt one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I like to share as much of it as I possibly can, through my photographs, with people around the world. So to answer the question bluntly, the beauty of this wee country moved me to start photographing Scotland.

How does the unpredictable weather impact your work?

The unpredictable weather here is great, well, in my opinion anyway. I always carry a camera, whether it's one of my Sonys or just my iPhone, I'm never without one, just in case. Witnessing four seasons in an hour is truly a Scottish saying, however it is extremely true! Most of the population loves bright, sunny days. However, I prefer days with angry clouds, rain, cloud inversions and broken spectres for taking photos.

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Braving unpredictable weather in the iconic Balmoral boots. Photo by James Wright.

James Wright

What does it mean to be a pioneer?

It's about pushing boundaries. To approach something in a new way, either by breaking new ground entirely or tackling a well-known subject with fresh insight. Success, as most people define it, is far from guaranteed.

What in your kit could you not live without?

A lightweight but stiff tripod! It is a technical requirement for many situations but it can also be useful for slowing digital photography down. It also comes in handy as a walking stick at times.

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The sunrise near Sligachan, Isle of Skye. Photo by Alistair Horne.

Alistair Horne

Which image of yours from the trip is your favourite and why?

My favourite image from the trip is when we ventured out for sunrise near Sligachan. It looked as though the clouds had enveloped us and the sun was not bright enough to pierce through. Just at the last moment, above the mountains and overlooking the water was an explosion of colours: orange and yellow, rewarding us for the early start. 

Who is your greatest influence?

In terms of photography, the first person that really got me into landscape photography was Colin Prior. He showcases Scotland in a great light and that made me want to travel around our little country and see new landscapes and places for my own eyes. He has taught me that even though we are such a small place, we have a wide diversity of vistas that we need to appreciate more often.

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Rab Ritchie wears the Field Balmoral Adjustable 5mm Neoprene. Photo by Ashley Baxter.

Ashley Baxter

What do you love about Scotland?

The variation in landscapes. A one-hour drive in any direction from my house yields a completely different perspective. From dramatic, mountainous terrain to busy cityscapes, this is all on my doorstep. I don’t think enough people explore their home country.

What has been your most memorable and pioneering assignment to date?

I’m a portrait photographer and used to do a lot of street photography. This landed me a gig for People Make Glasgow with the aim of capturing people in the streets of Glasgow in as natural and candid a way as possible. Street buskers, lovers on an evening stroll, Saturday shoppers. I love Glasgow and I love photographing people, so this has been my most memorable assignment.

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