Three Things to Remember When Photographing Wildlife

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

Let’s face it.  We all want to create great wildlife images.

So let me tell you how…

But, before we get going it is important to agree on this… you can only shoot what you see.

Yeah, it really is that simple.  You can only create images of subjects that you have in front of you.

Think I’m stating the obvious?

Maybe not because there are many people on Facebook and other social platforms that get very upset that they do not get the same amazing images as this or that photographer but they fail to recognise one small thing.  The people they are comparing themselves to either work and live in amazing places like the Sabi Sands or Madikwe or the regularly travel to fantastic photographic destinations.

To keep your own photographic sanity and to approach your own photography with an open mind don’t get caught up in the comparison game and knock yourself too hard.

So, let’s take a look at three things to remember when you are photographing wildlife.

1.  Shoot What You See

The first thing to always keep in mind is, and I’ve said it before, you can only shoot what you see.

You cannot, will not photograph a herd of thousands wildebeest crossing a river in the Sabi Sands.  You just will not see it there.

You will however see leopards, or at the very least have a bloody good chance of seeing some, so just by putting yourself in that environment you will already have given yourself a better chance of creating a specific type of image.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

Wherever you find yourself be realistic about what kind of images you can create and remember that you can only shoot what you see.

Put yourself in better locations and you will be able to see and photograph better images.

2. Plan Your Shots

Just picking up your camera and firing at will might give you some decent images but you will have to sort through a lot of rubbish to get them.

By thinking about your images, and visualising the shots you want to get, you will immediately be in a better position to create good images as you will be looking for them.

Also, what also helps in a big way is to understand animal behaviour which will give you the ability to start predicting certain moments, certain shots.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

It’s a great thing really as the more time you spend out in the field photographing wildlife the better you will become at predicting animal behaviour, and shots, and therefor better at wildlife photography.

3. Remembering That You Are Shooting Wildlife

Again, might sound obvious but I feel that it’s worth mentioning.

All too often people get so stuck on ‘clean’ images that they miss a wonderful amount of photographic moments out in the field.  Comments like “there’s grass in the way” or “the background is distracting” might hold some truth but is it enough to not take the shot?

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

I continue to be amazed by photographers who spend time removing single stems of grass from their images or clone out leaves and branches from the frame just to present a cleaner image.

Dust spots, yes.  Real life elements that was a part of the original scene, no.

Wildlife photography, if we really look at it in it’s purest form, is about shooting what you see and presenting that to your viewer.  Out of focus grass in front of the subject adds to the image as it creates a real representation of a natural moment that you had the privilege of photographing.  Well, I think so anyway!

So, there you go.

Three things to remember when you are photographing wildlife which, I reckon, goes well with both this and this post.


Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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Comments 0

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  1. Carol Bell

    Once again Gerry thankyou so much. …. especially about the “grass bit” I have no idea how to “get rid of it” and have always thought my photos would be considered useless with the “grass”. I took photos of cheater hunting on Sunday and now going to keep a few photos with blured grass infront of them.

    1. Post

      Glad you enjoyed it Carol! Yeah, the ‘grass’ thing is always quite contentious but it is natural and a part of the scene. 🙂 Good luck with your photography and shout if you have any questions!

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