How To Be A Better Wildlife Photographer

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Basic Tips For The Wildlife Photographer

Cheetah mother and cub sit upright surveying grasslands

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Wildebeest Trek across dusty river bed at sunrise

From time to time I receive emails from photographers asking for tips on becoming a Wildlife Photographer.

First of all there is no short cut to becoming a successful Wildlife Photographer. You have to be prepared to put in thousands of hours, frustrating hours, you will have to make sacrifices e.g. family time and financially. A Wildlife Photographer will spend many thousands of dollars on equipment and logistics with no guarantee of recouping their monies.

It is easy to set yourself on the web as a Wildlife Photographer. You buy a website , you open a Twitter account , FB account... etc., you are getting lots of "likes" and comments from friends. Now you are ready to make the big time as a Wildlife photographer.

The harsh reality is that you are not going to make it. I am not saying give up, far from it.

I love photography, I live and breathe it every second, I am obsessed about my work. And the more people who become interested in photography I believe is a good thing. It means Photography manufacturers will have more people to sell too and will continue to produce and innovate for this growing market.

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Some Basic Tips For The Wildlife Photographer That I Have Learnt On My Journey.

In no particular order.

  • Know your subject! As a Wildlife Photographer you must understand the behaviour of your subject. Once you do this you will find yourself capturing better Wildlife Photographs. 
  • Patience is a necessity of a Wildlife Photographer. You must be prepared to wait hours, days and even months to get that one shot you may have pre-visualised. At first you will be frustrated to the point of giving up. Every Wildlife Photographer has been there. Use your failures as a motivator.
  • Know your equipment. Your camera and lenses are tools. They will not help you become a better Wildlife Photographer unless you master every aspect of your camera. Every button you press must be intuitive so you never have to lift your eye from your viewfinder.
  • Learn how to you use the back focus button on your camera. 
  • Do not be afraid to experiment with your compositions, shutter speed, aperture and using flash. 

    Elephant herd of brow of hill


    • If possible when you do go out in to the field to work. Try and go on your own. I cannot emphasise how much your work will improve if you "zone in" to the task at hand. If you have distractions you will miss shots and will become very frustrated. And you confidence will take a knock.
    • Share your knowledge with other Wildlife Photographers. You may find that they will reciprocate and your knowledge base will increase.
    • Find a mentor, someone whose opinion you value. It is very easy to attach emotion to your work. You need an objective point of view. Look at other Wildlife Photographers website. Find a website that has tips and interesting articles on photography. Keep learning, You can never know enough.

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B&W portrait of lion


  • Competitions can be a good benchmark for your photography. And a great way to get exposure. But do not be too disheartened if you do not win. Competitions are subjective. Rather look at the winning images from an objective point of view. Check the compositions, the angle of view, the editing, every aspect of the image then apply the same criteria to your work. And then use it as a motivator to do better.
  • Make sure you have the right apparel for your field trip. You need to be prepared and comfortable.
  • Digital darkroom, you must be as competent in editing your images as you are at capturing them. There are many forums on the internet to learn more.
  • When possible use a tripod. No matter how good your stabilisation is on your camera. Tripod images will always be sharper. 

"No Matter How Good Y

ou Think You Are, You Can Be Better"

The reasons why I switched from DSLR to Mirror Less

article written By Wildlife Photographer Peter Delaney

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