Category Archives: Mammals Photography

How to get more when mammals are your models

It is easy to assume that a photographer in a concrete jungle may only be interested in shooting high fashion and the ever-posing models of the future. Well, in the wild, it’s actually not that different. As photography has developed in the past few years and better equipment has become more widely available due to distribution and cost, wildlife photography is not just for professionals or backpackers anymore.

In fact, it’s just as much a hobby as it is a career for many. And for those who are partaking in what could be called ‘casual’ photography, this doesn’t mean you can’t aim as high as the pros.

Here are a few things to be aware of when photographing mammals in the wild to get the best possible pictures:

  • Look for emotion
    No different to photographing your best friend or a professional model, you’re looking to capture a moment in time and finding the story behind the emotion. The eyes of a majestic creature such as a lion can host plenty of emotion. And the face of a chimp because of its likening to humans can show humour as well as deep sadness. But even for the more stern animals of nature such as horses of wild ox, body language can also speak volumes.

  • Be brave, but not too brave
    Although seeing creatures in the wild can be a majestic experience, it’s important to remember the danger involved with some animals. In some situations, it may be completely safe to move towards a creature to get a close up image. Some may even be curious enough to come to you! But sometimes this isn’t a smart option. But this doesn’t mean you can’t give the element of action or danger in your images. You can achieve the effect of being up close and personal with a telephoto lens. This way, you can keep a safe distance whilst allowing the animals to remain in its comfort zone.

  • Take a tripod
    If you’re going to be snapping pictures for a while, a tripod could help reduce any shakiness from occurring and let you stand back and wait for the action without tiring yourself out carrying heavy equipment.
  • Framing
    Sometimes environment can tell as much of a story as the creature within it. This image of a chimp in a basket is funny yet relatable because it is similar to that of a small child – who of course, do the funniest thing according to popular television! Whether you have consciously picked the frame for the picture and focused on one particular aspect of the mammal, alternatively try shooting an image of the full picture – no zoom, no focus. Think of when you are looking for an creature in the wild – or even in a zoo. It’s not always obvious where they are hiding. Sometimes, half the fun is looking for them and discovering them in an unexpected place.

  • Be prepared for the unexpected
    Be ready. Nature is unpredictable but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. If you’re expecting your mammal of the moment to be quick and to give you action, change your shutter speed so you can keep snapping without having to miss out whilst changing the settings.

Brett Harkness has travelled around the world with his camera and has been lucky enough to shoot many beautiful creatures. If you want to learn more about improving your photography skills, Brett Harkness Photography holds photography courses in Manchester.