Looking back on 2019

In a year of the highest of highs and lowest of lows, I can’t help but wind up feeling deeply grateful for 2019. I’ve met so many wonderful people through photography on both sides of the camera and explored lots of magical places. In a time of global unrest, I am finding comfort in community, focusing on my passions and setting down plans for the future.

Before I jump into a whole list of highlights and good things from 2019 (which makes everything seems awfully skewed from reality)… I want to be truly open and honest here – there were so many wonderful things from this year but there were a lot of times that were really damn hard. I struggled through a series of crisis’ of self-confidence (which I continue to fight every day), had to make some really tough decisions and at times I wondered what on earth I was doing with my life and everything in it. There was a sense of not feeling grounded this year, no matter how often I put my barefeet on the earth.

I am grateful for every person whose kindness and compassion kept me as close to the ground as I could be – my husband, Dave, most of all. But as the end of the year approached, things started to turn around.

I am now starting 2020 with optimism, a fiery passion for what I do and a sense of feeling like I can start to pave my own path now.

A few photography highlights

My top nine images on Instagram in 2019

Quit my full-time job

It was a big step with a two-fold reason – I really wanted to focus more on my photography and secondly, Dave and I were expecting to move country this year.

Through his work, we were expecting to be in New Zealand by spring but unfortunately, a few delays later, it was eventually scheduled for February 2020. I took the plunge and quit my full-time job to focus on photography and getting us ready to move.

Rebranded and launched my new website

It has been a long-time coming but I said goodbye to Raini Scott Photography and hello! to Raini Rowell Photography – including a new website, new branding and new sense of purpose. HELLS YEAH. And an extra special thanks to Emyliane Christodoulou who helped me (with boundless patience) on this journey.

Spent six incredible weeks in New Zealand

As a stepping stone to moving to New Zealand, we spent six weeks there together. 3 weeks travel and 3 weeks where Dave was working on his project in Wellington.

We made the ABSOLUTE most of every moment there. From admiring the milkway from a boat’s hot tub on the southern fjords, to blackwater rafting in a glow worm cave, to swimming in the ocean with dolphins, to many miles of audiobooks, sunsets and the incredible little air bnbs. This trip really needs a whole blog to itself.

Storyline twist! Decided to stay in Scotland

When we returned to Scotland from New Zealand late October, our hearts almost burst with happiness to be home. And not because New Zealand isn’t an incredible place that we’d be privileged to call home but because Scotland is so deeply imprinted on our souls.

It took moments of bravery to set aside our long-held dream of moving to another place to embrace the joy and opportunity of being here. We’ve seen so much of the world but this is home and spending a year somewhere else no longer fits with our goals for this point in our lives.

Fell deeper and deeper in love with Scotland and its heritage

When we opened our hearts to the idea of staying here – it felt like the bonds had been cut. We’d lived so much month-to-month on the promise of a new life somewhere else over the last few years that we weren’t able to make the most of the time in the present. I won’t sugar-coat it, it was tough and especially tough this year.

There is a huge amount to be said for knowing where you’ll be in 2 or 3 or 6 months time. And when we got that certainty back a range of possibilities opened up for us. We realised that Scotland and its heritage is what sparks passion in us – both as a couple and as individuals. It’s history, heritage and culture has left beautiful marks on my soul and I feel overwhelmingly excited to share that with others.

Making new photography friends who inspire me and hold me up

This year, I am SO grateful to have had opportunities to connect with other photographers. It can be a lonely business but some amazing people have helped push me and encouraged me to be the best photographer I can be. I can only hope that I can deepen these connections and meet more creatives from around the world in 2020.

Shared the magic of Scotland with these amazing people who were visiting Scotland for the first time

It’s SO bloody joyful and soul-fulfilling to see how Scotland makes such an impression on those who visit it. Whether it’s the first time or the 10th time on vacation in Scotland, there is something ancient and deep that speaks to people here.

Photographed incredible empowering women

Through my work and in my own circle of friends, I’ve been SO lucky to meet such badass women. Mothers, business owners, dream-chasers, kind-hearted relationship nurturers – they have inspired me so much and I’ve felt warmly held in their power. Just a few of these goddesses…

A few personal moments…

The best birthday city-wide treasure hunt EVER

Dave surprised me with a treasure hunt on my birthday (new years day). Across 10-12 locations in Edinburgh and the lothians (including the underground vaults and the silent disco), I was greeted by family and friends (dressed up in onesies!) at each stop. They gave me a riddle to solve, some puzzle pieces and a SHOT OF TEQUILA each. Oh my word. What a day! The puzzle ended up being a photo of penguins as my birthday gift was a day experience as a zookeeper (see below).

Snowboarding in Austria

Headed away with a fantastic group of 18 people for a week snowboarding in Austria. I did smash my face on some concrete on the last day but at least there were no broken bones haha.

Zookeeper for the day

A full day of being a zookeeper was rather wonderful, Dave knows how to do birthday presents well. Got up close and personal with some tigers, penguins monkeys, armadillos and a few others!

Befriended a few deer here and there

And met a few Highland cows along the way

Spent a magical wild week on the Isle of Skye and Harris/Lewis

This was an incredibly joyful week of exploring some of Scotland’s most incredible sites in the Hebrides. Getting as close to nature as we could – we camped and cooked over a fire and trekked till our hearts were content.

Explored Dave’s birthplace – having some of Northern Ireland’s best spots to ourselves

Spending a magical weekend at Roulotte Retreat with Dave

Loved it so much, I wrote a blog!

Performed in Europe’s largest fire festival

This was my 10th year performing in Beltane Fire Festival – there were over 10,000 people gathered to watch our performance which links back to ancient Celtic stories and traditions. Thanks for Jeff J Mitchell for the photo.

Danced in Edinburgh’s jazz festival

As part of the Beltane Fire Society, we were performing in Edinburgh’s jazz festival carnival – lots of drumming, facepaint and dancing around like crazy! Thanks for Vince Graham for the photo.

Explored Krakow, Poland with my family

Continuing our annual tradition of a Scott ladies weekend away somewhere new in Europe. What an amazing city!

Highland Safari

My photographer friend, James Illing, invited me to tag along on a Highland Safari photo adventure which was rather wonderful! Great sights I’ve never seen before, birds of prey spotting, braving crazy roads – all in brilliant company.

Adventuring in the USA with my sister

First time visiting my sister Rikki since she moved to Washington DC last year. We had a quick, jam-packed, adventure in New York and Philly.

Saw Dave and his drum crew lead Edinburgh’s Torchlight Procession and perform in the Hogmanay Street Party

Proud wifey! Check out Harbingers Drum Crew.

If you made it this far – you get some sort of prize. That was a whistle-stop tour of 2019! Wishing you all the best in 2020 and hoping that it will bring you lots of happiness in whatever adventures you take.


  1. Dad

    I really enjoyed reading this honey right from the the heart, sounds to me like the real journey will unfold this year. Good luck with all your plans both of you.. Love you Both XX

    • Raini

      Love you Dad!! xx

  2. Claire

    Wow Raini. What a year you’ve had. What a lovely, honest piece too. Wishing you all the best for 2020. Claire

    • Raini

      Aww thank so much Claire, wishing you all the best too!

  3. Anne Kidon

    Wow, what a year!!!

    Your photos are amazing Raini, what an eye you have!! You definately are heading for success.

    Loving the pictures of Dave and You, cannot help but feel the love.

    Happy to hear you are finding your true passion both with work and with where you both want to be living.

    Go Get 2020, You Got This!!!! xx

    • Raini

      Thanks so much Anne, can’t wait to see what the year has in store. Sending you lots of love too!

  4. lee allen

    Bloody hell! what a year you had! Lovely images as well

  5. Kathryn

    Wow! What a year. Well done for getting through. Sounds like a rollercoaster, and thank you for being raw and honest about the ups and downs. I love how grounded and earthy your photography is, and your website and branding is on point! Have a great 2020. You rock!

  6. Simon Brettell

    Beautiful images. Looks like you had a stunning 2019


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