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Rory seeks to get aerial media work off the ground

rory gillies sandwickRory Gillies pictured in 2016 when speaking about his Shetland Flyer drone photography work.

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St Ninian’s Tombolo, Shetland from Rory Gillies.

A PHOTOGRAPHER who captures images and footage of Shetland from the sky is turning to crowdfunding in an effort to realise his dream of setting up an aerial media business.

Rory Gillies, the man behind the popular website ‘The Shetland Flyer’, has received regular approaches from people and organisations – including BBC’s ‘Springwatch’ programme – interested in commissioning work.

But he has usually had to turn them down and is now trying to raise up to £3,000 towards securing the necessary permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to take commercial photographs and film using an unmanned aerial system.

Gillies – who runs Shetland College’s ICT department – is heading down to Doncaster for a ground school and operational evaluation, followed by a flight test, on 1 February.

All being well, he hopes to have everything up and running by late April or early May.

“I’ve been approached on numerous occasions to provide commissioned photos and videos for individuals, local businesses, film and production companies and commercial surveys,” he said.

“In some cases I have been able to ‘gift’ individuals an aerial photo of their house if I had been filming in the area, but normally I have to decline any specific commissions.”

The Shetland Flyer Facebook page has already attracted more than 1,800 likes, and he plans to continue producing content for the page even after he starts taking on commissioned work.

“The page has proved really, really popular,” he said. “I’m still going to keep providing stuff – people all over the world follow the page.”

Among his favourites so far have been footage of the cliffs at Eshaness, while video of the St Ninian’s tombola and shots of Lerwick from the town’s periphery have attracted thousands of views too.

He has been doing a lot of panoramas using the drone, taking advantage of the low summer sun “giving a unique lighting to Shetland”.

Having faced some serious health issues in recent years, Gillies hopes to be able to reduce his day job hours in order to pursue his evidently strong passion for aerial photography.

He has already invested heavily in equipment and has some financial backing in place, but is looking for people to contribute towards “some of the additional costs involved with training, travel and accommodation costs and insurance to get the business off the ground”.

Gillies' panorama of Aith - taken during a lull in the stormy weather between Christmas and New Year.

“My partner Julie, she’s quite keen to invest some money in it on the condition that I source some funding from other sources,” he said.

“I will be eternally grateful for any financial backing for this project. I’m not sure what I can give you in return, but I could certainly provide you aerial photos or videos of your property or favourite place if it’s in Shetland!”

  • You can contribute to The Shetland Flyer crowdfunder here.
General Election - 12 December 2019