Shetland Otter & Gannet Photo-assignment

A unique photo assignment focussing on two of Europe’s most iconic, adorable and charismatic species – the Otter and the Gannet.

  • Unrivalled local knowledge of species and sites
  • Exclusivity of only four photographers
  • Expertise of two well-known leaders
  • Five nights all inclusive accommodation
  • Exclusive & unique boat charter for Gannet feeding frenzy

This exciting ‘species specific assignment’ provides photographers an opportunity to work exclusively on capturing a portfolio of inspiring images by working exclusively on the Eurasian Otter and the Northern Gannet, through the collaborative leadership, local knowledge and expertise of native Shetland naturalist Brydon Thomason, award winning photographer Richard Shucksmith and well known bird photographer, Rebecca Nason.

The Headline Acts

The Eurasian Otter

This is undoubtedly one of the most sought after, challenging and ultimately rewarding subjects for wildlife photographers in Europe. Few creatures encapsulate both the ‘aw’ and the ‘wow’ factors like Otters do; from their stealthy hunting and predatory abilities to the intimate, adorable and playful antics of a mother and her cubs.

Otters are captivating loveable animals, full of character and interesting behaviour that lead fascinating lives and are highly evolved to exploit both the underwater and terrestrial environments. They are shy, but with knowledge of how they live, what signs to look for and how to approach them, they can be observed in their natural environment and their behaviour can be studied.

Our combined knowledge of Otters and the remote locations they inhabit is unrivalled. We work on these elusive creatures all year and study many sites so we know where is active and when. In addition to capturing images of these elusive creatures we will be covering the following;

  • Otter field skills; finding and reading the signs
  • How to read and interpret otter behaviour
  • Hone and improve field craft, essential when working with such shy animals
  • Working within the otters environment; how to use the elements to maximise opportunities

For recent Otter images visit Brydon’s Otter photography blog.

The Northern Gannet

With a wingspan just shy of 6ft, pristine white plumage with ink black wingtips, a beautiful yellow saturation to the head and an impressive dagger-shaped bill the Northern Gannets is not only Europe’s largest but arguably most attractive breeding seabird. Nesting in colonies usually numbering into the 10′s of thousand’s and occupying some of the continent’s most remote, dramatic and awe-inspiring sea cliffs and with the extraordinary ability to reach speeds of over 60mph plunge diving into the sea for their prey- the northern Gannet is a truly iconic species which offers exciting and inspirational opportunities for nature photography.

By working on some of Shetland’s (and arguably Britain’s) best locations this itinerary offers an unrivalled photographic opportunity to create an exciting and diverse Puffin portfolio of images.

Each destination offers the opportunity to create different images through composition, techniques and use of light. Example of possible images we will work on creating;

  • Wide range of composition including portrait; birds on nest with chicks, soaring in updrafts
  • Landscape compositions, taking in the holistic atmosphere of cliffs and colonies
  • Gannets at sunrise/sunset to get the purest light
  • Diving gannets, exclusive boat charter for feeding frenzy
  • Action and interaction- aggregations from Great Skuas (despite their large size, gannets are often victims of ‘kleptoparasitism’ – these boat trips also offer exciting opportunities to capture gannets being harassed by skuas after an easy meal.

The Itinerary

This action packed five day itinerary will be split over the two species equally and guests will rotate so that there is only two with each guide throughout most days. This adds a real element of exclusivity to the itinerary and in some ways this is closer to a one-to-one assignment.  Any boat trip will of course be weather dependent.

Our combined species and location knowledge working in Shetland is unrivaled. Intimate knowledge of the sites and behavior of the species is key to the success of these itineraries. Knowing each nook and cranny and especially how our subjects use them and when images can be shot. This might be the best cliff top spot for the dramatic sea cliffs and stacks ‘Gannetries’ taken on wide angle with dramatic backdrop with long exposure; where to shoot them as they perform on the wind in updrafts of onshore winds; where to shoot as sun rises or sets- all this is affected by many elements such as light and wind direction, we ensure our guests are in the right place at the right time.

Early starts and late finishes will be expected (but always the chance to opt out) to make best use of light and possibly to work around optimum tide times for Otter activity.

Read more on Otter photography/species specific assignment

Read more on Gannet photography/species specific assignment

Booking – Holiday Dates

Principal Tour Guides
Fitness Level Required
Walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £1,375
Available as bespoke/one to one itinerary – please ask for details

Contact Us to Book

Private Tour Options: This holiday can also be arranged exclusively for private booing for couples, families or small groups.

Contact us for information and cost proposal for your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday. Email:

Additional holiday information:

  • Read about the hotels we use – view our hotel providers.
  • All meals, accommodation, guiding fee’s and excursions as well as ferry fares and transport are included in package cost.
  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability.
  • Not included in cost are items of a personal nature or hotel bar tabs nor is travel to and from Shetland included.
  • No single supplement charged.
  • On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietary.
  • Throughout the holiday some of the activities will potentially involve walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain. A reasonable level of fitness is advised however this is run at a leisurely pace. We can also provide holidays at an even more leisurely pace; please contact us for details.

View Terms & Conditions for booking