When taking wildlife photos, we don’t want to just end up with some gorgeous shots. It’s important to respect animals and their habitat and do them no harm. In this video from B&H, photographer David Wilder shares five tips that will help you stay respectful and ethical and still take some stunning wildlife photos.
- Use a telephoto lens: many wildlife photographers choose telephoto lenses to get visually close to their subjects without actually getting too close. This is a great choice not only because it saves you from getting harmed – but it also helps you respect the animals’ space and their habitat.
- Do your research: this doesn’t only apply to researching the gear and techniques, but also the animals that you want to photograph. You want to learn about their habitats, habits, mating season, and even the difference between their mood when they’re stressed and relaxed. This will help you keep yourself and the animals safe, and know where to be to take the photos.
- Less is more: this tip refers to sound, motion, and even scent that comes from you. The senses of wild animals are way more sensitive than ours, so try your best to stay as unnoticeable as you can. If your camera has a silent shutter: use it. Blend into the environment using camouflage. Well, maybe not like the gentleman in the photo above, but at least wear colors that will blend in. Finally, try not to use any scented fragrances, including bug spray.
- Hire a guide: after your research, you may realize that you need a guide to go to certain areas and see a certain animal. But this is a good thing because they know the animals and can help you get the best shots and stay safe.
- Keep things steady: with telephoto lenses, any camera shake gets amplified super-easily. So, make sure to keep your camera and lens as stable as you can. Use a tripod or a monopod, or improvise with a stable flat surface. If you want to go handheld, keep your elbows in, press your face against the camera, and lean onto a tree to stay as still as possible.
Personally, I’ve never shot wildlife photography, so I can’t really share my experience. But I do spend a lot of time in nature and all these tips sound reasonable, keeping both humans and animals safe. If you’re a wildlife photographer, I’d like to hear from you: do you follow these tips when shooting? What else would you add?