Please Pose Nicely

Morkel Erasmus All Authors, Morkel Leave a Comment

Wild animals are not rented models. But sometimes you wish they were!

We’ve all been there, right? You’re on safari, watching a lovely scene with some photogenic animals…and they just don’t want to co-operate with their poses. It can surely be frustrating! That’s one aspect that sets wildlife photography apart from portraiture and working with people – you have to take what you get as you can’t influence the subject to do exactly what you want.

The first situation where a pose makes or breaks a photo is the silhouette. A silhouette needs to be instantly recognisable in terms of the subject – your viewer needs to be able to discern your subject at first glance. You don’t want the viewer to spend 10 minutes trying to figure out what they are looking at, right?


Another situation where the pose is critical is when you have additional animals out of focus in your background. I wrote a detailed post about this a while ago, check it out HERE.

You need to keep a careful eye on the scene developing in front of you and be quick on the shutter button when the right poses present themselves.


There’s a third scenario at play here, and that’s when you have multiple animals in your plane of focus. Often, when photographing herds/groups of animals, they huddle together and mingle and it’s hard to separate/isolate them to capture a defining moment. This is where patience plays a big part – be aware of what’s going on and be ready to trip the shutter.

You may need to also keep your eyes on the rest of the herd around you (not just the ones you have in the viewfinder at that moment).


It’s also not always about having symmetrical poses – check out this photo taken in the Masai Mara last year…


It’s obvious that there will be many times when the subjects don’t co-operate and don’t pose nicely…and it’s only by spending more time in the field and applying patience that you can walk away with pleasing images. Remember that being in the bush and experiencing the wonders of nature is one of the main reasons that wildlife photography is so enjoyable.

Even if you don’t “bring home the bacon” in terms of a portfolio of images, you should still be present in the moment when you are there and bring home the memories of great travel experiences.

Morkel Erasmus

* * *

Morkel’s links:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *