Guidelines for Nature photography
Scotland’s Wildlife the Law and You
This is a useful reference leaflet giving guidance on the laws affecting wildlife in Scotland.
Most bird photography doesn’t need a licence. But a licence is required if photography:
- might result in any offence in relation to wild birds while at, on or near the nest.
- this includes disturbance of Schedule 1 bird species.
A licence isn’t required to photograph Schedule 1 birds that are well away from the nest. But many such species are more prone to disturbance during the breeding season and may be disturbed even from great distances. You must be very careful to act within the law.
NatureScot issues a small number of licences each year to allow specific Schedule 1 species to be photographed and disturbed at, on or near the nest. We only grant licences to experienced individuals able to show their skill in photographing breeding birds.
Bird welfare is the most important factor when we assess any licence application.
Competitions and Exhibitions
Anyone considering submitting images for competitions is encouraged to read the conditions of entry very carefully. Depending on the type of competition / exhibition the entrant may have to satisfy very stringent conditions required by the host and organisations recognising the competition/exhibition.
PSA / FIAP Nature Definition & Nature Photographers & Judges Guide
PSA STATEMENT ON SUBJECT MATTER
The following statement applies to all images entered in all sections of PSA recognized exhibitions: The fundamental rule that must be observed at all times and applies to all sections offered in exhibitions with FIAP patronage or PSA recognition is that the welfare of living creatures is more important than any photograph. This means that practices such as baiting of subjects with a living creature and removal of birds from nests, for the purpose of obtaining a photograph, are highly unethical, and such photographs are not allowed in any exhibition with FIAP patronage or PSA recognition. Under no circumstances may a living creature be placed in a situation where it will be killed, injured or stressed for the purpose of obtaining a photograph. This rule applies regardless of whether or not the creature being killed, injured or stressed is visible in the captured image.
The PSA Exhibition Standards also state that aerial photography from drones, helicopters and low flying aircraft should not cause any interference with individuals or animals, disturb their normal activity or disrupt the way they interact with their environment.
RPS Nature Code “There is one hard and fast rule, whose spirit must be observed at all times. The welfare of the subject is more important than the photograph.”