I have been a freelance professional photographer for the last ten years working mainly in commercial photography. I shoot mainly for advertising, theatre, corporate and design clients. The freedom that being self-employed allows me is what I value most about my career. Professional and personal projects often dovetail and the opportunity to travel throughout the UK is wonderful.
Recently I have embarked on a project entitled one hundred weeks of scotland. I want to document the two years from the signing of the ‘Edinburgh Agreement’ to the Independence Referendum in the autumn of 2014. Every week will see different images on many different themes. It is quite a large undertaking (larger than I initially thought!) but is immensely rewarding and hopefully will provide a portrait of the nation in the crucial and lively build up to the referendum.
Although I now live in Edinburgh I grew up in Perth. Located as it is on the southern edge of the Highlands and the northern edge of the central belt it is as good a place as any to get a feel for what being ‘Scottish’ actually means. Perth has long been seen as a gateway town to the Highlands and thus by definition also a gateway to the south. It has always been a place where people gathered. Some would stay; others would pass through and move on. To me this is the essence of the Scotland I would like to live in – entirely inclusive, welcoming, and most of all outward looking in its beliefs and ideas. Only through a rich exchange of different viewpoints and attitudes can a country truly be said to be wealthy. Although a little bit of oil does no harm…
Those who support the ‘Yes’ movement are often labelled ‘separatists’. It is an ugly, loaded word that suggests isolation and stagnation. It is also entirely wrong – an independent Scotland would be more European and more international than ever before. In fact the very word Independence is incorrect. We would never be independent but increasingly interdependent on all the nations around us, and none more so than England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, we would be interdependent on our own terms. This is the crux of the matter. Those who live and work in Scotland should have the final say on what is done in their name. In addition to this I believe those who have lived here a month should have exactly the same say and opportunities as those who have been here for generations.
What has heartened me greatly about the ‘Yes’ campaign has been its positivity and vision and this is very much to the credit of all those involved. To win the argument negative tactics will simply not work. I want to hear people engaged in debate about what we can achieve, not what we cannot.
As I write this, the press in Scotland are increasingly throwing mud at members of the ‘Yes’ campaign. This is such a dangerous path to take and is doing a huge disservice to those in the Better Together campaign who are arguing well and thoughtfully about why we should remain in the Union. I believe that we in the ‘Yes’ campaign should never shy away from the positive arguments for the Union – and there are a few. We need to show that all of the reasons for remaining in the Union can be bettered and improved upon by becoming self-governing. If something about the Union is good, then say so, and then show just why we can make it even better. That, for me, is the way forward – through a deep seated and passionate belief that we can improve what we already have.
In addition to this we have to think about the aftermath of the referendum. I believe the result will be in favour of independence although I suspect it will be a close run thing. How do we reach out to those who voted no? What I have no doubt of is that the task of reaching out will be made immensely easier if we have run a positive and inclusive campaign. If the Yes campaign descends into a slanging match with the No movement then we will all ultimately be losers.
On a very personal level I want independence allowing me to explore everything from Proposal photographer to anti- war photography because I want all nuclear weapons removed from Scotland, and even better from the British Isles altogether. Leaving aside the utterly disgusting cost of this weaponry I have no wish to be part of any nation that inhabits the moral wasteland that possession of these weapons of mass destruction leads to. The arguments used by the US gun lobby after the dreadful killings in Newtown are the same as the tired lie used by the apologists for Trident – that we need more and bigger weapons in order to defend ourselves from some un-named bogeyman. This is thinking straight from the Stone Age.
Scotland is like an adolescent on the verge of leaving home. It wants to very much, yet is nervous; the fear of the unknown is strong. The first step is often the hardest but once through the door a world of opportunity awaits.
I have joined National Collective as I like its creative approach to independence. I love the fact that it is both forward looking and forward thinking. The emphasis is very much on the future and how we can all help change Scotland, socially & politically, for the better. This is the optimism that Scotland needs as we carry on into the 21st century. If the Yes vote comes out on top in 2014, and I believe it shall, it will because the pro-independence campaign has been imaginative, far-sighted, positive, optimistic, enthusiastic, passionate and most of all intelligent. These are exactly the qualities that the National Collective possesses and in the run up to the referendum I have no doubt it will increasingly prove to be a vibrant, clear-thinking, humorous and challenging voice in the independence debate.