Photography 101: Biggest Mistake When Photographing Wildlife

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Wildlife photography can be an extremely challenging genre. If a photographer comes away with a good shot they’ve usually earned it. Just taking a photo of a critter isn’t really wildlife photography. What can you do to improve your shots?

The number one biggest mistake most new photographers make when  attempting to shoot wildlife is subject position. Poor fieldcraft (the ability to successfully stalk wild critters) results in the subject being disturbed and fleeing pursuit.

This means the photographer typically captures only rumps and in the case of birds tail feathers. Not very satisfactory. The best photos capture the subject looking at the photographer, or at the very least a clean profile shot. Head-on  to tree quarters is the best subject position but sometimes a good profile shot works too. Animals looking away with their heads turned, or rapidly fleeing, are not interesting photos no matter how difficult they were to take. Assuming technical proficiency the best shots focus on the eyes and that means the critter has to look at the photographer—fleeing animals don’t do that.

My Portrait of an African Male Lion

2 responses to “Photography 101: Biggest Mistake When Photographing Wildlife

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