Interview: Ali Horne
Photography: Ali Horne
An interview with Glasgow based freelance photographer and co-founder of The Highland Collective, Ali Horne.
What inspired you to begin photographing the Scottish landscape, and how did you develop to where you are now?
After travelling abroad to the west coast of America after university and seeing the vast and diverse landscapes there, I realised I’d hardly taken any pictures when I was in Scotland. I knew a lot of people loved visiting and felt I was very fortunate to live there, so from that day on I decided to try and experience more of what Scotland had to offer. Ever since I started taking pictures I have always felt most comfortable shooting landscapes and thankfully we have a mixture of all sorts here. In terms of development, it’s always an ongoing process - the more you shoot, the better you become. I am by no means the finished article and I’m always learning on the job. Meeting other like-minded photographers and outdoor enthusiasts is also a great way to learn as everyone works, shoots and thinks in different ways.
What is it about the Scottish landscape that holds so much intrigue for you?
That’s a good question. We are very lucky to have most of what you would hope for in the outdoors - tricky hikes, easy strolls, islands, undulating peaks, beaches, castles, dramatic mountains and jagged coastlines all over the country. Having all of that on your front doorstep is very inspiring and I know I am incredibly fortunate. I’m also a big fan of history and we have plenty of tales to tell here that were hugely influenced by the Scottish landscapes around us.
What stories are you aiming to tell through your images?
In terms of stories, I just want to show all that Scotland has to offer. I would love to encourage others to see it for themselves and to respect the natural environment around them, including the wildlife and fragile ecosystems that we need to look after. If someone smiles after seeing a highland cow portrait or one picture reminds them of a great moment from a past trip, that’s good enough for me.
What reaction do you aim to inspire in people when they view your photographs?
If one person sees my photography and wants to explore and see more of what they can in their local area, or travel to one of the places I’m lucky enough to visit, then I’m happy. Inspiring more people to explore Scotland and to get outside, exercise and enjoy the fresh air is top of my list. If my imagery can evoke the feeling of ‘I want to see that myself’ or ‘I want to go there this weekend’, then I know I’ve done a good job. For me, promoting Scotland comes hand in hand with sharing imagery from my home country - to see so many people visiting and loving what’s on offer, then hearing from them afterwards saying my imagery inspired them to go is a great feeling.
How would you say social media contributes to your work?
It contributes a huge amount - sharing my work and producing content for brands and businesses came first and foremost from the social media platform. It’s really the main reason I was able to start my full-time career as a photographer. It still plays a big part in future campaigns and is where most of my audience comes from, so I’m thankful for it. You also see other photographers share content from where they are based instantly and it definitely inspires me to want to visit these places on a daily basis.
Which location has been your favourite place to shoot so far?
So far, aside from Scotland, either Greenland or Norway. Visiting Greenland was as incredible as it looks - kayaking amongst massive icebergs and being off the grid for a week was so refreshing and made me realise that you don’t need to look at your phone every second of the day. Meeting the local Inuit people was also great as they were so friendly and passionate about their culture, and to hear their stories was incredible. In terms of being blown away by the landscapes, Norway will take some beating. I’ve travelled to both the fjord and northern regions and both are beautiful in their own right. The Lofoten Islands have probably been my favourite place to shoot so far, with the combination of dramatic peaks and the midnight sun; it was a joy to work with such incredible vistas. If you ever get a chance to go to either Norway or Greenland, go for it. As you can tell, I’m used to colder climates.
Whose work has influenced you the most, and what advice would you give to another photographer?
There’s a lot of people who have influenced my work, including fellow photographers and family members. I would never have started taking pictures had it not been for my Mum; she is a really keen amateur photographer and bought me my first camera when I was a teenager. Colin Prior, the Scottish landscape photographer, definitely influenced my style and I’m a big fan of his work and his panoramas of the Highlands. I also get daily inspiration from social media; following people from all over the world, as well as meeting people and learning from any knowledge they pass on. If I can give any advice, it is to interact with other people who have a similar interest in styles as it’s a great medium to meet new friends and bounce ideas off each other for future adventures.