Stunning landscape photos of the Scottish Highlands by photographer Karen Appleyard, who also has an inspiring story. You really have to see these inspiring pictures of mountains, lochs and glens.

Ullapool (Karen Appleyard Photography)

Ullapool (Karen Appleyard Photography)

Out and about around Scotland along with her poodle and armed with a Nikon camera

“There is no 9 to 5, it is a way of life”, says Karen, who is a full-time photographer based in Highland Perthshire. “I love what I do and where I live. I feel like one of the luckiest people ever.”

Rob Roy Way, Scotland (Karen Appleyard Photography)

Rob Roy Way, Scotland (Karen Appleyard Photography)

Photography – far more to it than meets the eye

I live, eat and breathe photography, Scotland and nature, but I would not have it any other way, they are my passions.

“Make no mistake though, it is not at all easy going, glamorous living, etc.

“There is a lot to consider before venturing into this lifestyle and as any full-time photographer will tell you. There is far more to it than meets the eye and chances are, you only get to see some of the highlights.”

Ardmair Bay, Coigach, Scotland

Ardmair Bay, Coigach, Scotland (Karen Appleyard Photography)

I was a gamekeeper

“From a very young age, I always wanted to be a gamekeeper, following in the footsteps of my father.

“When I wasn’t at school, I could be found helping Dad. From the age of seven, during the shooting season, I would be amongst the line of beaters. And there was many a day when I would I try to miss the school bus on purpose, so that I could go bush beating.”

Karen & her Boss. Overlooking their old home at Ardmair, Scottish Highlands (Karen Appleyard Photography)

Karen and her Boss – overlooking their old home at Ardmair, Scottish Highlands (Karen Appleyard Photography)

My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic

“Back then for a girl to become a gamekeeper was unheard of. While at primary school my parents bought me a Kodak Instamatic camera one Christmas, it just had to be one of the best presents ever.

“When I was in my teens they bought me a Praktica. We had a friend of the family who was a professional photographer, and I began to spend time learning from him and I had a small darkroom set up too.

“After leaving school and after many rejection letters from shoot applications, I went into catering. I worked at an outside catering firm, which was a fine dining operation. (I still have a keen interest in food and shoot food images for magazines/websites). But my heart was still in gamekeeping.”

Stac Pollaidh, Mountain, Scottish Highlands (Karen Appleyard Photography)

Stac Pollaidh, Mountain, Scottish Highlands (Karen Appleyard Photography)

The UK’s first female head gamekeeper

“A couple of years passed and I wondered in which direction to go next, when my father was taken ill and had to have a spell of time off work. I stepped in to help and was in my element. The estate owner suggested I be taken on.

“My father was initially against it, but relented – although I had to start at the very bottom. When the time came for my father to retire, I was promoted to head keeper – becoming the first woman in the country to achieve this. Moving on a few years, I suddenly collapsed at work one day. I initially brushed it off, but became so ill that my GP told me I’d have to give up work.”

Steam train passing through Glen Auch (Karen Appleyard Photography)

Steam train passing through Glen Auch (Karen Appleyard Photography)

Becoming a photographer

“For several years I was unable to do anything. Being a gamekeeper was more than a job – it was a way of life and along with my freedom of the great outdoors, nature. I lost my house and vehicle.

“As my health slowly improve, I picked up my compact camera and started to snap away. Then I bumped into our old family friend photographer again, who saw my images and suggested I thought seriously about doing something in photography.

“Encouraged by his advice and the encouragement from my mother, I purchased my first DSLR camera and cutting a very long story short, applied to a stock agency, created a website and started my new career as a professional photographer.

“While moving house and sorting through some old things in the attic, I came across an an old empty folder with a logo I had designed when I was aged 15, with the words written on the front “Karen Appleyard Photography”. Maybe this career change was meant to be. I love photography even more than gamekeeping.”

Gallery of Karen’s photographs

Find out more about Karen’s work

You can see more of her work on her website:

She is also on Twitter: KarensPix

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