5 Best Wildlife Photography Tips for Beginners

Tips to help you take better photos of wildlife.

So you’re starting out down the path of wildlife photography. But being a beginner, you have no idea what your first steps should be. By following these handy tips, you’ll be on your way to becoming a pro.

1. Choosing the Proper Equipment

Any beginning wildlife photographer must start by asking themselves: What kind of wildlife photography do I want to do? Countless cameras and lenses are available on the market. Some may be best suited for safaris, others for birding. Nighttime shooting requires the right lens. Do you want to capture images of dangerous animals like grizzlies?

Then you’d certainly want the best zoom lens. Other considerations also include tripods, camera rain covers, backpacks for gear, flash attachments, and more. Be 100% sure what kind of wildlife photography you want to do and research the appropriate gear exhaustively so that you can spend more time photographing in the field.

2. Plan Your Trip, Study Your Subject

Pre-planning any excursion into nature is a must. For your safety and comfort, you want to know all about the terrain and weather of the place you’re planning to visit. And you’ll want to learn as much as possible about the animal you want to photograph. Birds exhibit much different behaviors than, say, a flying squirrel. Studying your subject’s common behaviors, habitats, sounds, and food sources will make your job finding and snapping them much easier. Knowing these things can help you catch that perfect image of a flying squirrel at the moment of flight or warn you that the Grizzly on the other side of your lens is getting ready to charge you.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Nobody gets better at anything without practice, and the same is true of wildlife photography. Try your camera out on those backyard birds. Practice capturing sharp images of moving targets. Practice in low-light situations. Experiment with all those different zoom levels and camera settings. Become skilled at snapping dozens of photos at a time. And, of course, never give up!

4. Patience

Patience is perhaps the greatest skill any wildlife photographer can learn. When you’re out shooting in the field, you’re on nature’s time. You may have to wait three hours for that perfect shot. You could stand out in the drizzling rain all day and never capture it. Nobody takes a couple of steps from their car and shoots that amazing leaping fox in the snow unless they are extraordinarily lucky. But, like fishing, waiting for the right moment is part of the joy of wildlife photography.

5. Study and Then Experiment with Composition

A major consideration before snapping any photo is the background. Many prefer to keep the subject as removed from the background as possible—hence blurred backgrounds as this forces the viewer’s attention on the animal. If you want to keep the environment in focus, be sure there no distractors in frame—like a person in an orange jacket, or an airplane streaking contrails overhead. Study professional wildlife photographs so that you can see what makes the perfect shot. Learn the rule of thirds—then break it. Try to get eye level with your subject for a more intense image. And don’t be afraid to get down and dirty for that unique perspective shot.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Liked what you saw? Sign up for our newsletter and get the latest tips and information.