It’s no hidden truth that animals are one of Mother Nature’s best additions to the environment. From vibrant wildlife in the Amazon to the feisty animals of the savanna, get up close and personal with stunning animal photography. Without leaving your seat, that is. Wildlife photographers around the globe work hard to capture incredible scenes of animals in action for the world to see. Here are 6 things they experience on the job so they can visualize their passion.
Wildlife Photographers Risk Their Safety
Balancing precariously on unsteady terrain. Wading knee-deep through muddy waters. Braving harsh weather like torrential rain, blazing heat, and arctic conditions. Risking the wrath of aggressive animals. Staying as quiet as possible to avoid spooking their photo subjects. Putting patience into practice before getting a few good shots. Learning through trial and error what a safe distance really is for each animal without compromising the quality of a photo. Keeping a safe distance from baby animals to avoid getting maimed by a protective parent. Photographers often risk their safety to get the perfect shot.
Follow Animal Laws
Getting close to animals in the wild isn’t always possible, and even if it is, it’s not an easy feat to photograph. There are plenty of animal conservation laws to follow, such as not disturbing the wildlife so they don’t become too accustomed to human presence. Overcrowding a wild animal can not only make them feel threatened, but put them at higher risk for diving into the jaws of a predator while running from you.
Sometimes, when you aren’t able to get a good angle or the animals are moving around too much, prepare to stalk them. For example, you’re looking to get some photos of impala drinking from crocodile infested waters. You stalk them all the way to the river or lake while being careful not to get noticed by the impala herd. While it sounds creepy, photographers do this for passion and the sake of creating art. It’s their job to constantly go out of their way to achieve more unique, rare shots that stand out from the crowd.
Do Research, Research, and More Research
What does research have to do with snapping photos? A lot of planning needs to be done before a photographer can actually set foot in a National Wildlife Park. As a photographer, you’ll have to do some research about the animals you plan to shoot, which includes their mating seasons. Wild animals can exude vastly different behaviors during mating seasons or when they have young ones in their herd or pack. A normally elusive wild dog pack in the savanna will turn aggressive if you venture near their freshly killed wildebeest. Sometimes, you’ll stumble across a clan of hyenas fiercely going through a battle for dominance. Other times, you’ll encounter a lioness aggressively protecting her cubs.
Not only do photographers have to research about the types of animals they will come into contact with, but the surrounding terrain as well. Animals move around often, so you need to move along with your photo subjects. You’ll have to think about protective footwear that helps you transition from rocky terrain to muddy swamps. Chasing your photo subjects while trying to avoid tripping over tree roots or colliding into a hidden hornet nest. Get ready for an adventure!
Practice First Aid
As you move around, you never know when you could lose your footing and take a tumble. You might have a chance fatal encounter with a deadly black mamba. A scorpion could skitter over the rock you’re on and decide to give you a nasty sting. When you’re wounded, wild animals picking up on the scent of your blood could also be a possibility. Accidents happen all the time, and it’s best to be as prepared as possible. Whether it’s for yourself or your fellow wildlife photographers, you’ll need to know some basic first aid. Carrying a first aid kit around with you while on a photography trip or tour will absolutely come in handy.
Play Catch and Release with Photos
Simply put, think about snapping tons of photos of the same subject before choosing only the best one. Let’s say a wildlife photographer spent hours lying still in grasslands, capturing shots of a grey crowned crane colony. Not all of those photos they’ve taken will sell; photographers still need to filter out the best shots and do some retouching. Here’s a tip: Don’t just delete all the photos you don’t like. When you come back and revisit them another time, you may actually find new uses for them.
Animals in the wild can definitely be unpredictable; these aren’t your common house cat or dog. These animals won’t pose for you like Fido or Mr Snuffles would. Wildlife photographers go through a lot to capture great scenes in action. For some refreshing digital travel, explore the best of Africa’s safari destinations right through your screen. And who knows? You might even want to venture there someday.