Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

How to Photograph Elephants

Gerry van der Walt Gerry Leave a Comment

A year or so ago I wrote a blog post called “How to Photograph Mountain Gorillas“.  This was on the back of many questions that people had about how best to capture these amazing animals and in the post I focused quite heavily on the technical variable and gear considerations and just touched on composition and content a little.

A few weeks ago I asked people on my Instagram what topics they would like me to cover in upcoming episodes of The Wildlife Photography Podcast and there was one in particular that caught my eye.

Gerry van der Walt - Instagram

The topic seemed so simple but, when I thought about it some more, I realised that the stuff I do with all my clients in the field is exactly what this questions needs to deal with.  Not the aperture or shutter speed settings and definitely not what lens or camera to use but rather HOW to photograph elephants.  What to look for, what to wait for and what to include in the final frame.

Photographing a wild animal is more about understanding animal behaviour and how the viewer of your image will ‘read’ the image than it is about the technical settings.  In the case of an elephant it’s about the position of the trunk, the ears and the tusk.  It’s looking for subject separation and close up details that helps you to ‘deconstruct’ the subject.

In episode 176 of the podcast I broke elephant photography down to three different types of images:

  • Animal in Environment
  • Animal Portrait
  • Deconstructing the Subject

For more on these three categories and some tips and advice on how to photograph elephants listen to the podcast below.

When I started getting some feedback from people saying the podcast made sense and it helped them to ‘think’ differently about the way they photograph elephants the idea for this blog popped up.  I asked, again on my IG, for people people to share their elephant images so that I can use the as examples of elephant photography to acompany the podcast.

Thanks to everybody that shared their images with me and here goes with some great elephant photography and once you’ve listened to the podcast you’ll look at these images in a very different light – or at least I hope you see it in a new light!

(Oh, and you should go and follow the various Instagram accounts linked below.)

Paul Boyland

IG:  Click here to visit Paul’s Instagram Feed

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

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Ruan Bouwer

IG:  Click here to visit Ruan’s Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

* * *

Kerry Mills

IG:  Click here to visit Kerry’s Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

* * *

Aimee Mclearie

IG:  Click here to visit Aimee’s Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

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Nick Wade

IG:  Click here to visit Nick’s Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

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Thinus Schoeman

IG:  Click here to visit Thinus’ Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

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Ronan Byrne

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

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Anne Geymeier

IG:  Click here to visit Anne’s Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

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Martin Meyer

IG:  Click here to visit Martin’s Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

* * *

Amanda Tathem

IG:  Click here to visit Amanda’s Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

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Marcus Kapp

IG:  Click here to visit Marcus’ Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

* * *

Grant Scott

IG:  Click here to visit Grant’s Instagram Feed

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Instagram - Wildlife Photography - Elephant

Some really great elephant image all round but do you notice what’s missing?

Some landscape images with an elephant in the frame.  This is something that a LOT of wildlife photographer’s portfolios lack as we always seem to want to get closer and use bigger lenses.  If you’ve listened to the podcast and your’ve read this far I’d like to urge you to shoot wider.  To include more of the elephant’s environment and show the scale of the amazing African landscapes these wonderful animal live in.  And then tag me on Instagram to show me.

If you have any questions leave a comment or get in touch, happy shooting and seriously, go and check out some of the IG accounts mentioned above. #SharingIsCaring

Until next time.

Gerry

About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at www.gerryvanderwalt.com or follow my journey on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter a look forward to changing the way you see the world.  I also host a Wildlife Photography Podcast and I Vlog!

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