Because I work like a frustrated painter, my pictures are a bit like paintings. I don't use filters, flash, manipulation or Photoshop. What you see is what you get. I don't create anything as much as capture something that's already there. I backed into photography by accident; now it's a total passion. But it's taken me four or five books to think, 'This is my job'.
"I used to be an editor for the BBC and Channel Four. When you bring a film camera with a big fluffy microphone, no one acts the same; but as a photographer, you can capture things as they are.
"My family are from Inverness and Edinburgh but I was brought up all around the world. I'm a bit of a gypsy. I've spent 16 years in Peru, where I've got a farm, and I've spent three years in Lebanon and a year in Ghana. It's lovely for my fifth book to come back to Scotland and follow my childhood roots. Each one of my books takes two years, but I spent more like five years doing this one. The oldest picture is 18 years old. It's been the most difficult book I've done by far – but also the most rewarding. When you're abroad, everything's exotic; but when you're home, it's about trying to find a way of doing it artistically.
"I wanted to cover the entirety of Scotland, from Shetland all the way down to the Borders. The theme of all my books is variety – I hope no two pictures look alike. I tried to have an original view, with a balance that's diverse and unusual, and not be like every other photography book on Scotland, because you always see the same places. I wanted to do pictures for foreigners and Scots alike that have surprises.
"I love photography because there's simplicity to it. You either capture the image or you don't. And it makes everything a mission. With every trip, your eyes are open. It makes you look at things in more detail.
"I feel lucky that I learnt on film because I didn't blast away taking 30 pictures, because it was expensive. I'd shoot just one or two, so it made me concentrate. People talk about technical details but photography is actually very simple. Now that people have digital, I recommend they put it on a manual setting and just snap away. You actually learn how a camera works – whereas if you shoot on automatic, the camera's doing what it wants to do, not what you want to do."
The Soul Of Scotland: Anam Na H-Alba by Max Milligan is out on July 5 on Quadrille, priced £40. The book launch is on Friday, July 13 at Glenelg Village Hall. For more information, email email@example.com or check www.maxmilligan.com
This picture of Loch Etive and Buachaille Etive More was hard to get because the loch is difficult to reach. It's like a tucked-away secret. I have 23 photo books on Scotland and they all have Buachaille Etive Mor in them, so I swore I wouldn't have it in my book. But then I ended up at the back of this loch, looking at the back of the mountain. I thought that was a nice twist, like a behind-the-scenes picture of the landscape. It was the most magical afternoon. People tend to shoot bright blue skies and they look like postcards but, for me, it's far more interesting to compose the dark scenes.
This elk picture is of the first European elk born in Scotland for about 3000 years, on this guy Paul Lister's reserve. There used to be elk in Scotland until we hunted them to extinction. To me, it's amazing the way both animals are looking the same way. Much of photography is luck – you just have to be ready to get the shot.
I love this picture of the three women on a grey day on Loch Lomond. It reminds me of every Scots granny – they've all got the same kind of shoes, coat and black bags. It summed up my childhood memories and made me laugh. I snapped that one quickly because I didn't want them to move but I told them afterwards and they were delighted.
This picture with the bog cotton – that, for me, is what I love about photography. Bog cotton is one of those common plants, and yet when you look closely at anything, even the most boring things can become magical. It's finding something totally ordinary and making it extraordinary. The reflections on the water look like a painting. I was trying to take a picture of a wild cat but I got the bog cotton instead. You set out trying to find one thing and you often end up finding something else.