The Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Ian Lawson - Saorsa Book

In Stock

A beautiful story of landscape, people and tweed from the Western Isles.

Saorsa (n.) Scottish Gaelic for Freedom, Liberty.

The photographs within this book represent all that I love about photography. That rewarding feeling you get after an Hebridean adventure. Searching for island beauty and then forced home by the darkening night, there is nothing left of you but the sea. All is washed away, an empty mind, but with my heart full.

It has been my extreme good fortune in life to travel amongst the islands of the Outer Hebrides, to discover the hidden corners and colours of a landscape continuously refreshed and renewed by the elements. My Harris Tweed story of wool to weaver introduced me to a crofting culture that has generated a lifetimes worth of memories and wonderful rare photographs. Now beautifully bound and presented as Saorsa in my most comprehensive edition to date.

Ian Lawson - Oceans Art

These islands hold the grandest of all storytelling, with tales hidden beneath each and every stone. Given time and attention, such secrets unravel like old remnants of heather rope, enclosing the heart like croft-land; bound by bent post and long forgotten boundaries.

My own story is a slow, meditative experience of these revelations, wholly appropriate to the rhythm of this special place. I have long been immersed in it, lost in the faces of the inhabitants and the character of their precious land. While I work here, my pictures always seek to capture the delicate balance between nature's light and dark, the challenges of life lived in the remote and rural, and the rare glimpses which always reward if one's patience can endure. The longer I spend here, the more the islands come to impose upon my own psyche and soul. I find myself unburdened, old emotional tethers falling away, bringing an increasing sense of lightness to my being with every visit.

My Hebridean work, which first began over fourteen years ago, now continues as I set out upon these new headings. Camera in hand, there is a deep drive to discover whatever may lie over the next hill and far horizon. Onwards the journey goes, and always with that inescapable sense of freedom only time spent in the Outer Hebrides can bring.

That is the feeling which has inspired the creation of this updated collection. Since the release of my first book ‘From The Land’ in 2013, the islands continue to reveal themselves in ways I never expect. So my story too continues to evolve, as I look at life there in an ever-changing light. Like nature, everything is always in flux but the essential endures.

This then is another step on the road I first began walking all those years ago, a beautiful path always leading home to the Outer Hebrides. No matter where I am in the world, my heart is irrevocably tied like a weaver's knot to this place, my soul forever drawn by the siren calls of unseen sea-birds.

Saorsa Brand Ian Lawson - Freedom of the Hebrides

Freedom of the Hebrides

‘A landscape I wanted to see for myself. What I found changed my life, my work, my ambitions.

I travelled to the Outer Hebrides all those years ago to discover a place of authenticity and I did. It is why I continue to return, camera in hand, dogs by my side. In an increasingly conforming society, we all search for real meaning, deeper resonance and ultimately that elusive sense of genuine freedom. I found mine here and hope my work will inspire you to find yours too, wherever it may lie.’

Ian Lawson - A place to dream Ian Lawson - A place to dream

Start your Journey of Discovery...Here !

Always a leap of faith buying a big value art book online without knowing exactly what's in it. My limited version preview will definitely help counteract some of that unknown. From the comfort of your viewing device you can turn the leaves of sixty-two double-page spreads for a little peace of mind. While an online perusal of Saorsa in no way compares to the physical joy of holding and owning a beautiful work of art in one's hands, I nonetheless want to give you semblance of the images, words and design. There are still over three hundred more photographic pages, full of Hebridean landscapes, croft life and tweed colours waiting to be discovered when you take possession.


Hebridean Memories

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so, for the most part, I let my photography speak for me. Yet, I'll always try to capture my thoughts and impressions in words too, from days spent in the wilderness or time with new friends by the fire. By sharing excerpts from my journals, I want to bring something open and distinctly personal to the books pages, to give a wider sense of story. While I hope the images alone will capture your heart, perhaps my words will deepen the appreciation.

Time appears to move slower upon these shores, the past still lingering in place names and people’s memory. Modernity's grip has definitely taken longer to settle here. The rhythms of life are different to my own, the vagaries of weather and of distance conspiring to prove the demands of deadlines futile.

Ian Lawson - Beauty of Harris
Ian Lawson - Saorsa Diptych
Harris Tweed Logo

Weaving Landscapes

The story of wool to weaver provided me with a way in to a culture illustrating an entire way of life only found in the Outer Hebrides. Land, shepherds and sheep - they each fitted into an old routine. They caught my eye, excited my mind and a vital connection was made.

As I began to photograph the landscape, the people and the cloth, I started to see patterns emerge. A beat began and the rhythm of Harris Tweed flowed into my consciousness and into my pictures. Herringbone, hound’s tooth, basket weave, bird’s eye, glen check, windowpane: evocative names for original Harris Tweed patterns. The closer I looked, the more beautiful and complex the patterns became. They are about the relations between and within – the ties of labour that bind Hebrideans to the weaving landscapes of their making.

Ian Lawson - Circle of Power

Valuing My Work

Five years down the line, with four sell-out editions of my first Hebridean book, it has given me the foundation to keep creating, keep building and improving. People have told me my books are too expensive, many others have told me they’re way too underpriced and a great deal of people have happily bought them, so I think I’ve got it about right.

In conclusion, my pricing policy is founded on a democratic equation. Saorsa is definitely low-cost for what's on offer but I want my books accessible to all at a fair price. Thankfully, I could never have imagined all those customers worldwide, who’ve helped me on the self-publishing journey so far. My work would be nothing without you.

Ian Lawson - A place to dream



MaterialHardcover - Silk bindings. Foil-stamped

PresentationCustom slipcase with suede-cloth lining. Gift-box with carry handle.

TextEnglish 12,000 words

Weight5 kilos / 11lbs

Photographs343 Full-plate colour photographs

Size35cm x 29cm x 5.5cm

PaperGuardapat heavy-weight matt art

Origin of ProductionPrint & Bindery. Verona, Italy

If you’d like a copy of Saorsa too, please use the link below to my shop. If you buy one, you'll be investing in a very rare photographic art book. A special one-off purchase to last a lifetime and beyond.

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Price Promise

First, making my photographs and secondly, creating all that goes into my opus books – design, artwork, writing, editorial, proofing, printing and the binding are all very expensive, both emotionally and financially.

I’ve only ever followed my ambition to make the most beautifully created self-published books I could imagine up. Each and every copy made by my Italian printers is a proud achievement and it is only with your kind support that I am able to continue my quest.

So, such is the love and care embodied in my work, Saorsa will never be found discounted at any time. Your investment will never be de-valued.