Patrick Alexander27 min read


Hello Patrick! Who are you, and what niche are you active in?

Hello, my name is Patrick Alexander, and I am a landscape and lifestyle photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m currently working in the travel and tourism industry, although I would like to take the leap into full-time photography eventually.

My camera bag includes a Canon 5D Mark IV with the 6D Mark II as my second body. Additionally, I also have a DJI Mavic Air in my bag. 

My style consists of twisting my images, and I prefer dark and moody scenes, but then I also like the rustic vibe of lifestyle photography. I’m convinced all photographers have a defined style before they even start editing. 

I’m very passionate about Scotland and the landscape it has to offer, and I like to try and portray that as best as I can without too much altering in post. I’m trying to combine this vision with a modern twist is where I enjoy the creative aspect. Photography is my creative outlet; I enjoy the freedom of being in the field, deciding what I do and how I do it, where I go and how long I am there for.

Over the years, I had quite a few game-changing moments, but I would say my picture of the sunset over Stac Pollaidh is my favorite picture so far; It was not a planned location and can be a long hard trek to the top, but it was one of my most proud moments.

Tell us about your first introduction to photography, what’s your backstory?

My start is probably very similar to most photographers; by using my phone. 

I worked as a tour bus driver and traveled all around the country, visiting all these amazing places; I felt fortunate and in awe at how beautiful Scotland is. During these trips, I always found time to take a picture or five but soon found that my phone memory was slowly dwindling away, and I would have to be very selective of what I decided to take photos of.

It was not until late 2017, when my fiance bought me my first camera as a birthday gift, a Canon 1300D, that my passion really flourished; I was striving to improve every single day. 

I actually still have my very first picture to hand as a reminder of where it started because I feel it is a nice reminder of my roots and see how far I have come; It was a picture from the Isle of Skye looking out towards the Outer Hebridean islands with an old black house in the frame with an extremely squint horizon. Still, it was the first shot, and that is precious for that reason. 

From there, Landscape photography soon began to take hold of me, and I fell in love with the excitement of finding somewhere new and what it would bring. Getting to a new location and the journey of getting there also, you find other potential spots to visit another day or the same day in some instances, it tends to keep the juices flowing.

My trusted 1300D paired with an 18-55 f3.5 was a hard-worked little gadget, but it still lives in the house; I gave it to my daughter to use, so it hasn’t been neglected.

Since starting, how did you develop your style? 

Developing my style has been a really long process, one that has been the biggest challenge for me. Not so much in the sense of what I want to shoot but rather in how I wanted to portray it. 

My main source of inspiration is Instagram; If I see a place that I want to visit, I will try and get my own stamp on it, and even when it comes to editing, it’s just a case of trial and error. 

It has taken me a long time to get to a stage where I am almost happy with my style, and I realize that it is still an ongoing learning curve in certain aspects; From trying to use filters to see what they do to carrying a tripod around with me because I thought I would need it for every shot. By now, I have discovered that filters did not work for me as they can take up valuable time and were a bit of a nuisance; the tripod has been upgraded to carbon fiber for the days when I need it, but I only really use that for doing product shots in a studio. 

I have gone from using a basic crop sensor body to a professional full-frame body in a short space of time; some would say that the gear does not matter, and they are right, but I wanted to make a commitment and pursue this passion. With the right equipment, I have found that I can relax so much more and take my time, which boosts my confidence, knowing I am best equipped as possible. 

Taking my time to select how I take my shots then impacts the finished image. It learned me to slow down to get the most out of my shots. I am getting more into lifestyle shooting at this moment in time, but I find that a little easier to implement into my landscape photography. I like my subjects to be natural and candid; I will only pose someone if I really need a specific shot. There are so many things to factor into any kind of shoot, every part of which I really enjoy. 

If we are at a location I’m familiar with, I can visualize where and how to shoot, where I want my subject to be. But if I have never been on-site, I tend to go a day or two early to get a feel for where everything is: the best vantage points, where the light will finish, where the light will go, and which backdrop will suit best.

Product photography has become a favorite at the moment, though eBay has become my friend during the lockdown restrictions. Again, portraying objects old and new with a twist adding in little trinkets here and there, whether that be coffee, whiskey or gin, or even a watch. It’s very refreshing creating a scene in such a small space; It’s something that I will continue to work on and hopefully will lead to another option.

Since starting, what has worked to attract fans and followers? 

In terms of growing on social media, this one still eludes me, but the most important thing I have learned so far is social media involves you being social. Engage with your audience, take the time to reply to comments, stories, and messages. 

I don’t have a particularly large following, but I remember how it felt when I did get a reply from a larger account; being acknowledged is sometimes more important. 

Always post your best work; posting your best work will not only make you feel proud of the image you have created, but it will let others see that you are serious about what you do. Do not let the numbers get to you. I have seen so many photographers fallen victim to this. 

You have to realize: Numbers on Instagram mean a lot, but they don’t mean everything. Just make sure to post consistently and engage. The best thing to come out of Instagram are the connections I’ve made! Finding like-minded people makes the difference, and surrounding yourself with the right group will help you improve, but you will also help them improve. Sharing ideas, stories, experiences is how you grow and learn. 

Since starting my website, I decided to write blogs about trips I’ve had and try to inform people while getting them to engage with me. I also run a monthly prize draw for a free print of choice for my subscribers. It is important to let others know what you get up to and also keeps them informed of why they follow you in the first place. It’s not much, but I feel little things like this help. I think that mixing things up is helping, especially now with everything going on with the Instagram algorithm. 

It is definitely more difficult to be seen naturally than when I first started using the platform, and things have changed for whatever reason. I have heard all sorts of rumors, with the key being about money and that IG HQ wants you to spend money on boosting posts … I don’t know if this is true or not, but something has substantially changed. 

For example, Reels; I can see their use, but I’m not overly fussed. Some are nice to watch and can be used as a source of inspiration, but don’t even get me started on the shop button! 

The best advice I can give is not to let the numbers get to you.

Through starting as a photographer, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

You tend to learn very quickly in most cases with photography, whether that you got somewhere too early or too late, set up in the wrong position, or just been in the wrong place altogether. But there is nothing worse than forgetting something that you need, and on a couple of occasions, this has happened to me.

Not long ago, I bought my drone and was out for a walk at a local beach – this beach had a huge curve – and the sun was about to position itself perfectly, so I decided to get the drone up as quickly as possible. I got to the perfect spot, launched my drone, and when I wanted to hit the shutter … I noticed there was no SD card inside. That was disappointing, to say the least!

Forgetting charges on long trips is another one that has happened to me a few times, a bit of a gut-wrenching feeling as you either have to decide to go back for it and lose an entire day or be very selective with your shots, which can make for an interesting trip. One of the worst things that have ever happened to me is when I had a product shoot for a client and then imported my files and formatted the card straight away, only to realize I shot everything in jpeg. Unfortunately, there was no way of getting the shots done again, but they turned out OK in the end. Lesson learned that day, always check the file settings and always shoot raw!

On the positive side, looking back at what I have learned that has worked to my advantage, is that google maps can be your very best friend. Just getting in the car and turning up somewhere can be sometimes anticlimactic or leave you with no idea where you should be shooting from or even looking towards. If you have a specific shot in mind, I highly recommend prior planning as this will help you in the short term and the long run.

Through the mishaps I’ve had, I have since learned to become more organized, almost OCD in a sense. Everything in my bag has its place, and I know it will always be there, and I can easily grab something without looking. Not only my gear but my car as well, since it tends to be my home away from home; everything has its place from where my camping stove goes right down to where my boots and even where the all-important charging station is.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

I don’t believe I can single out one single achievement as being my biggest.

I think looking at how far I have come in the space of time since I started, and I’d like to think that the progress I’ve made has been my biggest achievement so far. From starting in auto mode and almost sliding the saturation and clarity sliders off the screen to controlling my exposure, using gradients and using photoshop to clean up certain things speaks volumes.

It’s easy to copy and replicate others’ work, but finding your own feet and creating something unique to you and your personality is something that I am most proud of.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with the clients I have, they are all unique in their own right, and I have tried to cater as best as I can, and every one of them has been so helpful and patient with me. 

Selling prints isn’t a regular occurrence, but when it happens, it is a nice feeling that something you created in someone’s home or office makes me feel very lucky. 

Meeting others is another thing that sounds very natural, but when I started, I used to be very intimidated at the thought of meeting others as I didn’t feel I was up to scratch. But connecting with people has been a great thing for me, as I was not a very social person, so meeting up with a random stranger seemed horrible to me, and the thought was awful. Everyone you meet sometimes won’t always live up to expectations and may find that you are let down but don’t let that put you off; connecting with the right people takes time, and eventually, you will find the right people, and when that happens, it is one of the best feelings you can have.

How are you doing today, and what does the future look like?

COVID has been an absolute game-changer for me, and not in a good way. 2020 was going to be the year I edged a little closer to pushing photography to full-time; however that didn’t happen, and I virtually put everything on hold, although I did manage to keep a hold of a few jobs. 

It also gave me such a great opportunity to get all of my admin up to date, and the website cleaned up; I added in a few bits and started a monthly blog about my travels. 

2021 is looking the same in terms of gaining business, but we can only keep trying to adapt to the current situation. I would love to travel to Scandinavia once we are allowed to travel properly, everything there appeals to me.

The short-term dream is to be able to travel and get out to take photos, but the long term dream would be to make a sustainable living from photography. The freedom to choose how, where, and when you work, just sounds too good to be true. Hopefully, I will get close enough to feel like I have achieved it. I had also originally hoped to one day travel abroad for work, getting the best of both worlds of taking photographs and traveling. At the moment, that ambition is on hold, but one day I will land that special job.

What’s in your camera bag these days? 

So when I started, my first camera happened to be a Canon, and I have stuck with them ever since. Currently using the 5DIV, and I absolutely love it; It is a 30-megapixel full-frame beast, not a term used lightly. It is pretty heavy, but I’m not unfamiliar with the weight of a DSLR. I did think about going for a mirrorless version, but it didn’t feel right in my hands.

I have two zoom and two prime lenses. My Canon 70-200mm f4 pretty much lives on the camera body 80% of the time. Also, using the Canon 24-105mm f4 is great to get a little wider and pushes in when you need to. Both of my primes are Sigma, 35mm f1.4 ART, and the 85mm 1.4 ART. I wasn’t too sure about using prime lenses initially as I was concerned about losing range, but they work really well in most situations; the 35mm being really good at getting super close and is incredibly sharp and is slowly becoming my favorite little lens. 

All of my gear lives in my camera bag 24/7, which is the Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW ii. I have tried a few bags since I started and always seemed to find something suitable at the time, but they were not as sturdy. I’m delighted with the Lowepro version as it has plenty of space with an expanding front pocket for a jacket and even has a couple of additional pouches for chargers and cables. 

Attached to the strap on my bag is a Peak Design Capture Clip V3, which easily takes the camera body’s weight and 70-200mm paired together, one of the best items I’ve ever purchased. It is so small you don’t even notice it, but it is super handy when hiking to save getting your camera in and out of your bag constantly. 

I also have a Peak Design Slide strap that I don’t use very often, but it’s great for quick release from the camera when you don’t want to use it. 

Finally, I carry the Mavic Air around with me, again such a great tool to have when I’m out and about to get those extra special views.

Patrick Alexander camera bag
Shot by Patrick Alexander

So everything listed:

  1. Canon 5DIV body
  2. Canon 70-200mm f4 lens
  3. Canon 24-105mm f4 lens
  4. Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART lens
  5. Sigma 85mm 1.4 ART lens
  6. Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW II camera bag
  7. Peak Design Capture Clip V3
  8. DJI Mavic Air drone

What software and platforms do you use for your photography?

Everything I edit is done at home on my laptop (HP Pavilion), which is nothing fancy, but it’s fast and gets the job done. As much as a MacBook is a go-to device for creatives, I started on a PC and will continue to use it for the time being. 

Paired with my laptop are three WD Elements external drives, two 2TB and one 5TB that I use for main backup storage so that I can store as little as possible in the hard drive of the laptop so that it runs faster, and this allows me to store everything easier. 

Lightroom Is my go-to for editing since I started photography, and I’m learning more and more each time I use it. I have seen so many people using Photoshop for a lot of their editing, but I’ve stuck with Lightroom and only use Photoshop for cleaning things up that don’t look quite right. 

Besides Instagram, I will usually publish my work on my website portfolio, update my print store, and add to my media kit, so everything is always kept up to date to at least within 30 days. I have used Wix to do this, which I feel is more suited to my needs; The display, user interface, and features are great no matter your level. It took me some time to get used to everything and find out how to set things up correctly, but other than getting some help connecting my domain, I have designed the entire site myself using the templates on offer. 

Depending on the type of job, Wix gives me the option to create custom galleries for clients to view and select their favorite shots, which is incredibly helpful; once they have selected which images they would like, I usually transfer via WeTransfer, and they receive a link to download them. You can send up to 2GB free, but I have recently subscribed to the pro version, which gives me up to 20GB.

What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer for you?

The most rewarding part for me about being a photographer is that I have done something productive for someone; I have created something that means something to others. Knowing that people have put their faith in me to deliver a vision they had.

I take a great deal of pleasure in location planning and how to set up my shots to create an unique photograph; those close to me will confirm this, but you can’t ever really tell what it will be like until that first image has been taken, but once you know you have got the shot it puts you on such a high. 

The editing process varies for me as I do not have a strict routine or specific time to import photos straight away. If I have been away for a few days or had a long day shooting, then I will leave the import and back up until the following day. The first thing I will do is I will back up the raw files to my drive and then import them to Lightroom and make coffee while that is happening. Afterwards, I’ll sift through the images and selects which ones I’m going to edit; these will eventually go into a gallery for the client to select which ones they like or want to be changed. 

I usually have an idea in my head of how I want the images to turn out, so I apply basic adjustments to most images.

What is your favorite location to shoot? 

Selecting a specific location is such a tricky question. I have lived in Edinburgh all my life but never really spent a great amount of time in the city, but I have always wanted to get away from it to where the noise and people are less. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, though, it is so diverse in regards to architecture, and there are different aspects to the city. It has a castle, an extinct volcano, an old and new town, and a couple of beaches nearby. 

But as soon as someone asks me if I want to take photos, I automatically think of the highlands. The raw and rugged landscape has everything and not too far from the city, but far enough, you will feel alone when you get there. The Isle of Skye is always a favorite to go exploring too but can be overrun with tourists. But anywhere in the Scottish highlands is where I feel happiest, especially around Assynt; it has an incredible coastline, mountains, and quaint little villages scattered throughout to pick up supplies or get to get the phone signal back when you need it. The west coast can lay claim to the most spectacular sunsets you will ever see. There is something about being here that just puts you at peace, cleanses the soul, and gives me sheer delight. The light is always changing, so it keeps you on your toes, and the colors just pop all around you, especially in the autumn. The worst part about it is having to go home.

What is your best memory as a photographer? 

I have so many good memories whilst taking photos, and it has been a bit of a wild journey for me so far. I had so many great days out! Getting that first email from a client and confirming your first paid job was a great feeling, but as cheesy as it will sound, the best memories for me are with the people I’ve met so far!

I’ve met three of my close friends through photography, and I think what makes that special is that we would probably stay friends if photography were not a factor anymore. There was a stage last year where the lockdown restrictions were getting to me, and I was not really enjoying my surroundings, and social media did not help any. I almost gave up on photography in general as I thought my chance had gone to really push myself. There was so much self-doubt of my abilities until one day, I got a message, and a follow back on Instagram from a guy that I followed for a while, complimenting my work and that we should meet up one day. As much as I appreciated it, I thought it would not ever come to anything. So I had planned a kind of make or break trip for myself once we were allowed to travel again and messaged him on the off chance he was free, and it turns out that he was in the direction I was heading and was free to meet up. We spent four or five days together traveling around the highlands, stopping at some stunning locations, and I came home with some of the best photos I have ever got, a proper pick me up the trip and one that I am grateful for.

What makes the difference between a good image and an iconic image?

Every image is a good image; you have to start somewhere so that it can be used as a base layer for what you want to achieve eventually. Creating an iconic image is tricky at the best of times. 

Iconic images are given to those places or landmarks that, when mentioned, you automatically think of because you have seen some iconic photo somewhere before. You could type into google the Eiffel Tower; literally, thousands of pictures will show up, but it does not make them iconic. The majority of the pictures you’ll find will be from the same angle or the same conditions, so you have to make it special to make it iconic. 

If you see an iconic building and want that shot, does that mean you have an iconic image or that you got that iconic image you saw before? Who determines what a good image is?

If you put enough effort in and at the end of whatever process you have done to create it, you should be proud, and it would be classed as a good image. What will help you create a good image, a unique image are several factors, light being the main factor. If you go somewhere at midday with no cloud and bright sky, then you might get a nice picture, but if you go before the sun is up and there is a little cloud or mist when that light shines through, you will have something magical to show for your efforts.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I have never really been one for reading books, I could not manage to find one to hold my attention long enough when I was younger, but as I have grown older, I have picked up a few books about history, photography and even tried to learn Gaelic – which was extremely challenging. 

My most recent purchase has been Finn Beales’s book, The Photography Storytelling Workshop. This is a topic that I am very passionate about and would like to try and incorporate more into my work. What I like most about this is that everything has been broken down into topics. Within those topics, several bullets and steps will take you through the best process to produce the best work you can, all while putting your own twist on it. 

I have taken to podcasts as well, only finding two that have my attention for the time being. My favorite right now is called The Creative Call; it is by a pair of young enthusiastic photographers from England, Brandon Robson, and Sam Rogers. They started their channel to interview different photographers, videomakers, editors on their experiences, how they started, and what they have learned so far. So this one appeals to me because it’s nice to hear different stories from different creators on where they came from to where they are now. 

Advice for other photographers who want to get started or are just starting?

What advice can I give anyone starting? Enjoy it. Do not let photography feel like it is a chore, do it because you enjoy it and want to do it. If you go for a daily walk, then take the camera or use your phone and document where you are or if the sun is setting.

There will be times when you feel like giving up or think you are not good enough; just remember that everyone else started somewhere. For example, as far as I am concerned, I am still a novice, but I like to think I have a basic understanding of how it works, and I will continue to learn and improve my skill set. 

Take your time and be patient; it won’t happen overnight. Every day is a school day.

Shoot manual, this was my mistake when I started, and I ended up over editing my photos to manipulate them to how I thought they should have looked.

Make sure to shoot in RAW; this will help you so much during post-processing. 

Connect with people; it’s nice to get out alone and practice or enjoy a place to yourself, but it is an even better feeling with someone else there, to teach you or bounce ideas off one another and, more importantly sharing those special moments. 

Do not be intimidated by how many followers someone has; reach out, let them know your thoughts, and ask for help or advice. 

Do not, and I cannot stress this enough, do not get caught up in the numbers. Yes, it’s nice to get lots of likes on your photos, but it is not the most important thing. This used to get me really down and almost made me throw the camera away on a couple of occasions, and I wouldn’t like that feeling for anyone. 

Just do your own thing, enjoy it, and it will change your life!

Where can we go to learn more?

My DM’s are always open if you want any advice or even to chat about my experiences; I’m happy to help where I can. Follow me on Instagram @With.Patrick 🙂

To learn more about me, head over to my website and check out my portfolio/media kit; I run a monthly newsletter/blog and exclusive competitions as well if you want to keep up to date with me – www.patrickalexander.co.uk


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