Ali Horne is a photographer who’s not only decided to travel the world with his camera, but has also started a community of creatives to showcase his home nation of Scotland. Using the landscapes he adventured through in America as inspiration, he decided to use Instagram as a way to develop a small community of photographers, and promote the beauty of his homeland. Beautiful imagery is at the centre of it all.
I’m Alistair Horne, a 23 year old Scottish freelance travel photographer based in Glasgow.
It actually came around by accident! I studied Marketing at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and after achieving my honours degree in 2014, I decided to treat myself to a month’s travelling around the west coast of America on a guided tour before applying for jobs. I had been taking pictures for a long time but never really took it seriously, only as a way of remembering holidays or events. 11 states and 5,500 miles later I was amazed by the diversity of America’s west and it made me realise I wanted to try and capture my view of Scotland and other areas of the world to make others inspired and want to explore our hugely varied world. Since 2015 I stopped looking for university jobs and have been photographing my journeys since. I’ve been able to travel to many different countries so far on commissions, including Switzerland, Iceland and back to America to San Francisco where the journey began.
Instagram was the main reason that I was able to grow my audience base in such a short space of time. Without social media and Instagram, I wouldn’t have even considered doing photography as a full time career. It’s a great platform for engaging with your audience and showing them different areas, brands and countries around the world as they are all travel minded like yourself. Brands that I’ve worked with wouldn’t have even known about me and my work if it wasn’t for the app, so I’m grateful and lucky that so many people use it and follow along.
The Highland Collective (@thehighlandcollective) is a collaborative, Instagram-based project designed to showcase outstanding imagery from Scotland. There are 9 of us in total, just now, with a combined following over of half a million followers. Our purpose is just to try and make people want to travel to Scotland to have their own experiences on our shores and show the world what our wee country has to offer! We had all spoke about putting a page together for some time, but finally we got round to making it. Hopefully it will inspire travellers to arrive here and put Scotland on the world map.
From my perspective, I have a very single minded view, seeing as my work is predominantly published through social media. In terms of Instagram and its fit within the industry, it is certainly growing in stature and reputation, with more and more brands engaging with influencers and followers daily with sponsored campaigns and giveaways. Advertising on social media has recently increased dramatically and it’s a great platform for brands and businesses to increase their own engagement and brand awareness and also for photographers to demonstrate their talent in the click of a button. I’m very much a small pebble in the large pond of the industry, trying to stay afloat like the rest of us! In terms of myself, I just want to increase Scotland’s reputation as a great place for holidays and for companies and photographers to come and experience for themselves.
In two years, unless Instagram has a massive scandal or loss of followers, I only seeing social media photography growing and growing, as more people use smartphones, making it easier for companies and consumers to interact quickly and easily. Huge brands are already aware of this and I expect smaller businesses to take notice of the huge audiences that social media has and how it can affect their own organisation. There may be a shift away from hugely expensive campaigns with the best creatives in their field and more chance for people like myself to make a career out of doing campaigns for businesses all around the world, saving them a huge cost in comparison to an advertising agency for example. We shall see!
I have a few exciting campaigns for brands already planned in the near future, both in Scotland and further afield. I still can’t get over the fact that my job entails travelling around the world and capturing what I see: I really am grateful that I’m able to do it. I guess my main aim for this year is to continue to do what I love and inspire people to go outside and venture into the unknown. Try something different and experience a different culture: it may end up changing your life just like my America adventure did to me. I also want to help promote Scotland as much as possible and its variety of landscapes and traditions to the community and encourage others to travel here. Even though our country is small, it’s still a hidden gem in my opinion!
In terms of Scottish photographers, there are certainly a few that you may not know about that I enjoy following along on a daily basis. My photography idol from Scotland is a man by the name of Colin Prior (http://colinprior.co.uk). For me, he completely changed the way people looked at landscapes of Scotland and his work both in Scotland and abroad is really the reason I started taking pictures. He is well known here, but maybe not so much abroad.
In terms of Scottish Instagrammers, people like Ruairidh (@ruairidhmcglynn), Ross (@ross.dickie) and Merlin (@the_kafka) are people I’m now able to call friends and their work always inspires me. Stuart (@stuart.laing) is another who goes under the radar and deserves a lot more attention in my opinion!