It may sound like a silly question but do you or have you ever set yourself photographic goals before you head out on a safari or trip into the wild? As with everything in life, I find that having a goal in mind really does help you focus your thoughts and efforts towards achieving a specific photographic objective. Paulo Coelho pretty much sums it up:
“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”
In two weeks time I will be heading up to Kenya and the Masai mara to hosts back to back safaris which will be focussing on the great wildebeest migration that the region is famous for. One would be forgiven for thinking that my photographic goal would be related to crossings like the one below, but I have something different in mind…
You see, I am in the process of consolidating my photographic portfolio and I have noticed that I have a tendency to concentrate more on animal in environment type shots and that there are very few decent portraits in my collection. Whilst scenes like the one below are great for conveying a sense of place and telling a story, a great wildlife portrait tugs at a different part of a viewers mind and I want to tap into that a bit more.
What makes a great wildlife portrait?
Personally I feel that a lot of the mood in any wildlife portrait is directly linked to eye contact. A side glance conveys a very different mood when compared to a direct stare.As a result, the eyes usually become the focus point for any wildlife portrait and it is imperative that the eyes are tack sharp.
Another factor to consider is the background and use of depth of field. There should be no competition between your subject and the background and this means that you will be using a shallow depth of field to isolate your subject from the background. The Masai Mara is great for these types of shots as the background is often miles away form your subject, or even better, your subject is elevated on a termite mound! The trick here is to choose an aperture which will render all of the detail in your subject crisp and sharp whilst simultaneously creating a beautiful, smooth background.
So, as I head of the the Masai Mara I will be working towards my goal of growing my portfolio of wildlife portraits and look forward to sharing the results with you when I return! In the meantime, if you want to find out more about wildlife portraits, check out the following blog posts:
And before you get too carried away and obsessed with your photographic goals, keep this quote from Ernest Hemingway in mind:
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
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