Review of our revamped Shetland Summer Photo-tour

Posted by Josh Jaggard on Friday 29th September 2023 | News

Each season the interest in our photo-tours and the opportunities we offer for visiting photographers continues to grow. With new collaborative tours and working relationships from overseas operators, this summer was particularly exciting- and especially busy. New for our 2023 season we also mixed things up with our own flagship summer itinerary. And what better way to do this than with a gallery of participants pictures.

By halving group size, changing to one exclusive venue on Unst and providing private catering, we took our already very successful summer itinerary to a whole new level. For better logistics and to maximize our opportunities at Hermaness NNR especially, we based ourselves at the very comfortable and idyllically situated Bordanoost Lodge in Haroldswick, with exclusive booking for the property each week. The itinerary still, of course, features the very best locations throughout the isles.

With exclusive booking of the property and being able to choose mealtimes to suit our assignments and itinerary, we are now fully able to maximize our time in the field at times that are best for the images we want for our participants. A group size of just 3-4 made for a much stronger social group dynamic and feeling of exclusivity that also allows for a more hands on approach in the field.

Size Matters

One of the most significant benefits of our smaller group size was the opportunity it gave us to enjoy the more intimate encounters with shyer species such as the Otter. Although our more conventionally sized groups work well, with two leaders, separating into smaller groups for a chance to focus on Otter for a day, with this new tour we are able to target Otters more often- on more than one of this seasons tours we photographed them every day, some days for an hour, some days for several.

The small groups also allowed us to cater to individual needs. Whether our guests sought guidance with their cameras, composition techniques, or experimentation with new photographic approaches, We were able to give more our our time in the field to each individual. For those who needed less guidance, it meant more time to scout for the perfect shot and facilitate any specific shot they wanted.

A Home Away from Home on Unst

The change in location to Bordanoost Lodge on Unst from hotels on mainland was a game-changer. Here, we had the privilege of calling a picturesque bay our home for the week. The property is very well decorated and furnished, with three spacious on suite double/twin rooms. For the private catering we called in two exceptional local cooks who cooked up delicious dishes using fresh, local produce. Our mealtimes weren’t dictated by a clock; instead, they adapted to our wildlife encounters. Whenever we were delayed by the wildlife, they were able to put the food on hold until we were ready. When a glorious sunset beckoned, we dined early to make the most of the evening light.

The lodge itself is located on the seafront of a beautiful bay, in which during the season we have managed to see Otters, Seals, Orcas, Minke Whale, Risso’s Dolphin and not to mention Red throated and Great Northern Divers, various shore birds and Common Eiders- many of which photographed on a morning or evening stroll. During downtime, our clients could pop out and see what they could find, ensuring that every moment was a photo opportunity.

This seasons highlights

The social dynamic of the groups were fantastic, and we got some incredible encounters every week; from Orcas just 5m offshore, Otters catching octopus right in front of us, Phalaropes at our feet, to thousands of Puffins, shoulder to shoulder on the cliff tops and Gannet feeding frenzies. All the trip managed to photograph all the key species, with just one missing the bonus of Orca.

They all visited 6 island, getting to experience all the different landscapes Shetland has to offer. One of the highlights of all the trips is the Gannet feeding frenzy, where we go on a boat beneath the seabird cliffs of Noss, followed by a frenzy of hundreds of gannets diving just centimetres from the boat!!

But not only was the wildlife incredible, but the people and laughs we had along the way too.

Here are two links to clients portfolios from these trips. An impressive collection of images all within one week.

Tony Davidson:

Andy Beavis:

Join Us Next Year

If this tantalising glimpse of our ‘Shetland Summer Photo Tours 2023’ has sparked your interest in Shetland, please do let us know.

View this tour and dates for 2024.

Don’t miss your chance to capture the wild beauty of the Shetland Isles and create lasting memories with fellow nature enthusiasts. We can’t wait to welcome you on board for another unforgettable season!

(Posted by Josh Jaggard)