Shetland Nature

Wildlife, Birding & Photography Holidays

5* Shetland's only Five Star Tourism Awarded Wildlife Experience
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Photograph Otters in Shetland

Photo by Richard Bennet.

Client image, mum and cub, by Richard Bennet.

  • The UK’s leading otter photo-tour specialist
  • Authorised by Scottish Natural Heritage license
  • Recommended by top UK professional photographers
  • Unrivalled up-to-date local knowledge of best locations
  • Learn about otter behaviour, daily routines and ecology
  • Learn & understand field craft, tracking skills & how to read signs
  • Peace of mind that with us you are also supporting otter conservation

Client images:

Wild Otters are undoubtedly one of the most sought after, challenging and rewarding subjects for wildlife photographers in Britain. Few creatures encapsulate the ‘aw’ and the ‘wow’ factors like Otters do; from their stealthy hunting and predatory abilities to the playful antics of mum and cubs.

With the highest density in Britain Shetland is widely known as the best place in Britain to see and photograph Otters. In recent years there have been well publicised urban locations in England where photographers can literally line up with habituated otters at their feet amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life. Shetland however offers an entirely different, exciting, unique and rewarding experience where otters are shy and wild but thrive in beautiful, remote coastal wilderness.

A selection of my otter images:

I have been watching otters in Shetland now for over 30 years. I wish I could say Id been photographing them for that long however. It was not actually much more than a decade ago I first picked up a camera. With the field craft, local knowledge and life experience of otters behaviour I was ideally placed to work with and photograph them in a way that few had done before. Realising that there was high demand from nature photographers for the experience my skills offered I established myself in leading specialized one-to-one itineraries and demand has continued to grow throughout Britain, Europe and beyond.

Spending time with otters and the majority of my work in the field is something I know is a true privilege. Needless to say I adore my work and am very proud of the reputation I have built and along the way have led some of the UK’s top nature photographers.

A selection of images taken by top UK professional photographers on assignment with me:

Ethics & working with otters

In addition to the results and experience photographers have on these itineraries It is the uncompromising ethics to always put otters before the images that my reputation has been built. It is paramount that photographers coming out on assignment understand that the otters well-being will always come first.

Otters are protected by law. I take the responsibility and my credibility very seriously and operate under a Schedule 2 License authorised by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Planning assignments

It is well known how shy and sensitive otters are by nature along our wild shores and without a high level of knowledge and experience of their behaviour, environment and elements their daily routines could be disturbed. This is why every assignment must be treated strategically, case by case in terms of logistics and locations.

To be able to have numerous active and reliable sites at any one time of year takes a great deal of monitoring, commitment and time. The success for which we are renowned depends as much on this work ethic as it does ‘on the day’. The up-to-date knowledge of sites throughout the isles is imperative not only for activity but crucially the wind direction determines where to go and where no to. It is also the geography of the coast that must be considered as many good sites are not at all conducive to photography.

A selection of client images:

Learning and understanding

It is very important to me that guests learn about and understand otters and the crucial field craft skills needed to work on them. Perhaps unusually for a photographic assignment it is much more about these elements and subject knowledge than techniques and camera settings, which of course is information that is always available.

What are your chances?

Wendy Sallisburry

Wendy Sallisburry

It is rare that a photographer seeks an assignment such as this without knowing the score when it comes to tracking wild and elusive animals. There are no guarantees but, to date, I have yet to have a client go home disappointed from a dedicated itinerary.

Wendy and Tony Salisbury

My only guarantee is that I put my heart and soul into every day and put all the above considerations into practice to maximize opportunities and encounters. Knowing and appreciating just how difficult, rewarding and ultimately emotive an experience photographing Otters can be is a huge motivation for me.

This is often an adrenalin charged and exhilarating assignment. The thrill of the chase and the anticipation involved in tracking – and then the euphoria of an encounter they never thought possible. Knowing we have worked responsibly with otters undisturbed, viewing images on the back of a guests LCD screen in real time, on location and seeing their sheer delight and appreciation is what it’s all about.

Images on location:

Jamie Gundrie

Jamie Gundrie

Rune Bjornhurst

Rune Bjornhurst

The assignments & itineraries

These Otter assignments are specialised itineraries aimed at photographers who appreciated the difficulties in working with wild animals and are prepared to put the work in to get the images.

They are structured and led on a bespoke basis and best suited to one-to-one or two person itineraries. A large majority of bookings are for two photographers who work together.

For more than two/three guests we will generally split into two tours. Itineraries can be put together to suit small groups but only by bringing in a colleague to co-lead.

Photographing Otters is not conducive for groups without risking disturbance.

Booking

Guiding fees & recommendations

One-to-one assignment: £275 per day
Two-person assignment: £350 per day
Three person assignment: £150 per person per day

  • In order to maximize the chance of sightings, encounters and photographic opportunities (and also variation of light and weather conditions) a minimum of three days is recommended.
  • Please ask for information or advice on accommodation options which may be more logistically suited for locations and sites we may use – our Shetland Nature Lodge is ideal to work in to a competitive package including accommodation
  • Appropriate outdoor clothing is essential; sturdy walking/welly boots, colours that blend in – nothing bright!
  • Camera gear – long lens/telephoto essential. Usually the longer reach the better however 200 and 300mm lenses can be possible with converters but will obviously offer limitations

Contact Us to Book

Contact us for more information or to enquire about your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday.

Telephone: +44 (0)1957 710 000 Email: info@shetlandnature.net

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