Andrew Alexander

My name is Andrew Alexander, I am a 29 year old freelance photographer and I currently live in Kilmarnock, Scotland.

I first became interested in van life a few years ago when I found myself working on a few campers at my old place of work. Ending up with my own van was a stroke of luck more than anything. When I was still working in the repair centre, my old boss bought it off a good customer and I had already been toying with the idea of buying a van and converting it. I was really sick of pitching tents and paying for hotels. There is honestly nothing worse than camping in a tent during Scottish summer, they little midges can be horrendous! I ended up driving the van for a few weeks and I just loved it. Even though it was a work van, it had been taken good care of. The bodywork was fresh and it ran really well, so I decided to swap my imported Toyota BB which I had just painted and modified for the work van. My old boss gave me some money in the swap which helped sweeten the deal. I was a happy man!

I’m lucky to have a trade behind me which helped me do a self conversion and I feel that makes the van so much more rewarding. I didn’t need to pay thousands of pounds for another company to do the work. It feels good to know that it was me who made it possible.

I’d say the best part of having the van is the freedom it brings. I can just pack it and go. I don’t need to worry about where I’m going to stay. I can make my dinner, charge my camera / drone batteries and get a good nights sleep. I’ve woke up in some truly amazing places. There's nothing better than listening to rain bounce off the roof or the sound of birds in the morning when I kick the door open. The freedom obviously extends to my photography work. Being able to head back into the van and work on editing or wait out some bad weather is a reward in itself.

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Photography is something which really spiked my interest around two years ago. I went on a couple of log cabin holidays in The Highlands, ‘bagged’ a couple of munros and started taking some photos with my phone. I’d definitely say Scotland was my biggest inspiration. I literally felt compelled to take photos, but I soon realised I was never happy with them. I bought myself a nice camera around 20 months ago and my passion grew into something which now pays my wages.

I find photography calming. Even if I’m working in a stressful environment, I become absorbed in the craft and forget about what’s really going on. When I was still working in the repair centre, photography was my way of escaping at the weekends. I literally went through every week telling myself “It’s alright, I’ll be out shooting this weekend”. If things weren’t going well, photography was the answer. It seemed to solve most of my problems.

I really enjoy shooting large vistas. Add a mountain, a wee loch and a few trees - I’m happy. Again it’s all about how calm it makes me feel. Even if it’s freezing cold or blowing a gale, I find shooting these scenes so rewarding.

I’d definitely say my work is earthy and authentic. It’s just a style which has really developed on it’s own. I’ve never been forceful of my photography or editing. I never sat down and said “You know, I’m going to do start doing work like this” or “My work really needs to look like that” I’ve always just done what comes naturally to me and I’ll continue to work in a way which suits me creatively.

I recently captured a sunset scene with my drone when I was on holiday in The North of Scotland and it’s definitely my new favourite. I just love the whole scene. The pastel colours and the cloud reflecting in the water really set it off.

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The Isle of Skye is definitely my favourite place to go and take photos. The first time I ever visited Skye it was covered in snow and it has stuck with me ever since. I’ve yet to visit somewhere which offers so much, but theres time yet. Yeah, it’s pretty busy in the summer and you can end up stuck on the small roads for a while, but it really is a photographers dream. I still check the price of land and houses every other week.

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I’m not really a person with a plan. Naturally I’d love to delve into film work some more, but the main thing for me is to just keep creating authentic work and if this is something I can continue with for the rest of my life, then I’d be more than happy to do it.

To anyone thinking of owning a camper van - just do it. It opens up so many new opportunities and provides you with so much freedom. I know it can be very expensive, but it’s really worthwhile. You’ll thank yourself for it. If you fancy taking up photography and just getting out there, you have nothing to lose. It will either galvanise you or it won’t.

Just being in my van makes me happy. Especially after a day of walking and taking photos - preferably with my other half. It’s true what they say, it’s the simple things that make you happy! 

Words and Photos by Andrew Alexander.