Virginia Wilde

IT’S the kind of photography that takes your breath away – spellbinding images of mountains, hidden glens and of sunlight punching through dark clouds.

And for young Scots dreaming of exploration and adventure, they have become the inspiration to get out and explore the country’s wilderness.

These images are the work of The Highland Collective – eight passionate young photographers determined to capture Scotland’s landscapes in ways rarely seen before.

Using their outdoor skills as climbers, explorers and aerial photographers, the group strive to show hidden corners of the country to their 100,000 fans on photo-sharing site Instagram.

Most of the Collective have non-photography jobs – one is a mechanic, another a software engineer – but they banded together three years ago after admiring each other’s images on social media.

“Four of us decided to meet up and go on a trip to photograph the Highlands together,” said co-founder Alistair Horne, 26.

“We were so inspired that we thought we would form a collective to showcase Scotland’s beauty to as many people as possible.

“We hoped to both encourage people to come to the more remote spots and see it for themselves – and to inspire young Scots to get outside and see their stunning country.”

The group now spend their weekends photographing Scotland’s landscapes both individually and together. Here, four of them describe why they think Scotland is a photographers’ paradise – and pick their three favourite images of the country’s wild places.

1) Alistair Horne, 26, a Glasgow-based freelance photographer. ( and Instagram @ali.horne)

“What drives me to go out and photograph Scotland is that there is so much to see on our shores. We have such a variety right on our doorstep: huge mountains, scenic coastlines, stunning islands with picturesque beaches and an abundance of wildlife: we really do have it all for photographers.

“It may not be as warm as some places but Scotland has a lot to offer that not many other places in the world can rival.

“It’s so hard to choose a favourite place to shoot images. Being from Glasgow, the west coast of our country is hard to beat. I love the Western Isles, Outer Hebrides and also areas like Torridon and Sutherland. Glen Coe is less than two hours from home and incredibly beautiful. I’m also a fan of Perthshire and the Cairngorms in the Autumn.

“Being out in the wilds you always have to prepare for the unexpected. I went out on a shoot a few years ago, taking two vintage camper vans all the way from Glasgow to the Isle of Skye – and both decided to break down on me. It’s not just the weather that can throw you.”


1) I have been to the Old Man of Storr on Skye on many occasions, but this is the only time that the early wake for sunrise was worth it. The warmth of the sun and the shadow-play on the rocks makes this one of my favourite pictures to date.

2) Taken on a visit to Calgary Bay on Mull. Gaining a different perspective of the beach from above with the drone lets you see all the textures and colours of the sand and water that you would not be able to notice otherwise.

3) The kissing cows, taken in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. I came across a herd of Highland Cows beside the road and patiently waited for these two to get comfortable with me, They were making strange faces at me and then suddenly this happened. I was thankful to capture it.

Johnny Foy, a 32-year-old mechanic from St Andrews. (Instagram @_jfoy_ )

“Being part of the Highland Collective means I can share my experiences around Scotland with other like-minded people. It’s great seeing the places the guys go to. What I love about Scotland is the ever-changing weather. It means that even the most familiar places can look dramatically different – and it always keeps me guessing. For a small country, Scotland is vastly different in every corner.

“My favourite place to photograph is Assynt. It sometimes feels like you’re on a different planet when you’re walking around the landscapes there. And one particularly special moment that sticks in my mind was witnessing two large stags rutting on a football pitch in front of me in Lochranza on the Isle of Arran. To see this little-seen activity close-up was amazing.”


1) This was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed while out in the mountains. Just as we came down from the cloud-covered summit of Stob Ghabhar, we were greeted with this amazing sight: sunlight piercing holes through the clouds as far as the eye could see, way into the distant glens.

2) After battling 60+ mph winds and watching waterfalls go the wrong way, we finally reached the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor on Beinn Eighe. The constant snow flurries stopped for a brief moment to show the most amazing light cast long shadows of the Torridon mountains.

3) I pass this Loch (Loch Lubnaig) all the time and have always wanted to get this shot. After a long journey back from Assynt, we passed Loch Lubnaig and the conditions were perfect! Calm water and amazing light.

3) Asad Iqbal, 25, an architecture student in Edinburgh. (website: Instagram @a.iqb)

“A collective of individuals with similar interests is essentially the reason the Highland Collective was formed – and I’m very grateful to be a part of it. While we regularly showcase images of the country, we also want to bring recognition to Scotland as being one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

“While it would be obvious to say the scenery is what makes this country special, Scotland also has a rich history and a unique culture which attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year. The fact you can be meandering the historic streets of Edinburgh one minute, to visiting a location with towering mountains the next – well, it’s unique.

“I’ve been lucky enough to venture to many remote parts of Scotland but the dramatic views of the Isle of Skye are something that continues to stimulate my mind. Diverse landscapes, magical coastlines and an abundance of wildlife and history – the island has something for everyone and I couldn’t recommend it enough.”


1) The winding road of the Quiraing (Skye) making its way through the dramatic landscape, as the sun makes a rare appearance, a morning that is still etched in my mind.

2) This misty view of one of the rock formations surrounding the Old Man of Storr (Skye) is a personal favourite. You may even question whether you’re still on planet Earth as you wander past these alien-like formations.

3) A curious lone sheep, with possibly the greatest back garden in Scotland? (Quiraing, Skye).

Robbie Singer, 25, a Software Engineer from Glasgow. (Instagram @rabshab)

“I have always had a passion for spending time outdoors. Fuelled by a childhood of climbing mountains, playing in forests and swimming in open water. That passion carried on to adulthood and photography followed as I aimed to document and share the adventures.

Scotland is special because we have some of the most amazing scenery, right on our doorstep, regardless of where you live in the country.

“There are few other places with such variety in such a small area. In the past few years, I’ve climbed munros, swum in lochs and bivvied on the top of mountains – all just a few hours from my front door.

“With regards to my favourite place to photograph in Scotland – I spent a lot of time on the Isle of Arran during my summer holidays growing up, so I love heading back there with my camera.

“The hills on the north of that islands are absolutely stunning, with long ridge-lines and incredible views over the water and surrounding Argyll and Bute. T

“There are amazing beaches where you can watch the seals basking on the rocks – and there are plenty of waterfalls and glens to explore inland. It really is a dream location for photographers.”


1) An incredible sunset from the top of Ben A’an in the Trossachs. I camped up at the summit and went straight to work the next day. Much better than a night in front of the television.

2) The outdoors becomes much easier to enjoy with good company. Here a friend and I explored some of the amazing forests on the west coast last winter.

3) Early in the morning is my favourite time to photograph. This particular morning on Loch Lomond, all the elements limed up perfectly for a dreamy shot of the mail boat on the loch.

The Highland Collective, @thehighlandcollective