"All I really wanted to do was wildlife photography." -Nigel Dennis
Do spending hours observing animals in their natural habitat appeal to you? Do you want to travel the globe and take pictures of exotic landscapes? Do you want your images to appear in the next issue of National Geographic?
If you answered yes to all three of the previously mentioned questions, you are destined to be a... WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER!
Wildlife photographers dedicate their lives to capturing breathtaking pictures of animals and plants in their natural environments. The goal of wildlife photography is to have viewers imagine themselves being in the wild with animals and plants that they do not come across on the regular.
It is essential to state that wildlife photography is not for the faint-hearted. Hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months are spent on assignment snapping pictures of a particular species; the perfect shot is waiting!
In today's article, Superprof has the goal of showing curious ones more about how to begin a successful career in wildlife photography.
How to Start Working as a Wildlife Photographer
If you were an employer who had to hire somebody new for a job position, would you choose a candidate who did not have any previous training in the desired field or one who did?
For many, the answer is a no-brainer: choose the one who's been previously trained!
However, in some sectors, raw talent is prioritised over degrees and secular training. For example, photography is one of those sectors. In various cases, photographers are self-employed and work on a freelance basis. Therefore, their professional success depends on their ability to sell and deliver outstanding pictures and not their previous training.
But how do I become a sought after photographer who is actually making money?
Since wildlife photographers are individuals who are highly skilled and knowledgeable about taking pictures in the wild and in sometimes unfavourable conditions, there are specific steps that need to be completed before working professionally.
Therefore, without any cause for delay, the following are some details on how to become and start working as a wildlife photographer:
- Become a Photography Expert: the great and awe-inspiring shots of nature observed in magazines, online, and on TV do not come about by chance are definitely not shot by random people using their cellphone camera; these photos are the result of hard work, years of practice, and trained talent. Therefore, those who begin to take pictures with the goal of becoming a wildlife photographer need to master the fundamentals of photography and be specially trained in shooting objects that are in motion. Since wildlife photographers aspire to take pictures of animals in action rather than sleeping, it is essential to master the complexities of blur photography to capture moments with clarity.
- Make the Great Outdoors Your Best Friend: after the basics of photography and additional skills such as lighting conditions, adjusting shutter speeds, and fundamental knowledge of photoshop has been grasped, aspiring wildlife photographers need to focus on wilderness survival skills. Therefore, it is essential to mention that technical skills are not all that is required to successfully survive through long, harsh, freezing cold and scorching expeditions. By working on survival skills such as the ability to communicate with native inhabitants, efficiently packing your gear and belongings, and exercising patience when waiting for animals to appear, wildlife photographers are setting themselves up for success and are on their way to becoming the next Jimmy Chin!
- Network and Market Yourself: to become successful in the field of wildlife photography, there are two things that are necessary: 1) a fantastic portfolio with outstanding images that set you apart from the rest, 2) a list of "friends" who can help you achieve success in your domain. Also, market yourself by sending emails to reputable magazines with links to your portfolio. It is highly recommended to have a website that showcases your talent and where private clients can come to you. You might also want to consider featuring your photos on social profiles such as Shuttershock, iStock, and Bigstock, where people can buy your pictures.
Becoming a force to be reckoned with in the wildlife photography world takes a lot of time, consistent effort, and an edge over the competition. Nevertheless, it can be done by following the three previously mentioned steps; an exciting future awaits!
The Best Equipment to Buy to Specialise in Wildlife Photography
Construction workers need heavy machinery, teachers need textbooks, chefs need pots and pans, and photographers need cameras to get the job done. Without their necessary tools, professionals cannot effectively complete their work.
However, is a camera all a professional photographer needs?
Depending on the type of photography a photographer wishes to specialise in, there is appropriate gear required to get the job done in style. Since wildlife photographers spend a lot of time in the outdoors, the equipment differs from other fields such as fashion or advertising photography.
Without further ado, the following are highly recommended items that are necessary to become one of the most qualified wildlife photographers in the business:
- Binoculars: before the breathtaking shots are taken, wildlife photography primarily consists of waiting for your intended animal. It's very uncomfortable to scan the horizon for hours with a camera and lens; therefore, a necessary item all wildlife photographers need to possess are binoculars. Opt for a 10x set of binoculars that are preferably waterproof since you never know what weather to expect in the great outdoors.
- Telephoto Lens: in the case of nature photography, the longer the lens, the better. A lens with a 400mm equivalent range is highly recommended to take pictures you'd be proud of showing others. Lenses that are worthy of honourable mention include the Canon 100-400, the Nikon 200-500, and the Sony 100-400. All of these lenses can easily be found online on sites such as Amazon.
- Tripod: to avoid fatigue and ensure quality wildlife shots, a tripod comes highly recommended by all professionals. On a long day of shooting, many hours can be spent waiting and watching for animals to appear in sight; save your energy by having your gear ready to use in front of you. Shop around to find a tripod that will adequately suit your needs.
- Rain Cover: considering the constant change in climate while working in the outdoors and the overall cost of camera lenses, buying a rain cover to protect your camera from harsh conditions is a no-brainer. Search the internet or visit an electronics store to find a rain cover that will completely cover your camera and lens.
While the previously mentioned items are of primary importance, there is other gear such as a teleconverter, a gimbal, and a camera lens bag that should be purchased without delay.
Useful Photography Tips for Beginners
"The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people and things in it do." -Andy Warhol
When it comes to artistic abilities, many are born with them while others have to work hard to be successful. Andy Warhol was born to be an artist; everything he touched became a pop-culture masterpiece. Warhol saw beauty in the simplest of things and appreciated photography as an art form.
With that being said, for those who are diamonds in the rough and want to become better at specific sectors of art such as painting, sculpting, and photography, receiving helpful advice from more experienced individuals who have had years perfecting their skills within a particular domain is fantastic advice.
Skills are more important than expensive gear; since raw talent can make the cheapest camera snap awe-inspiring portraits.
Therefore, without further delay, whether you're shooting wildlife, event, or fashion photography behind the camera, the following are some useful tips from professional photographers:
- Take Advantage of Good Lighting: the best photographers on the planet claim that they shot the best portraits, landscapes, and scenes during the "golden hour." When is the golden hour? The best lighting of the day can be observed shortly after dawn and just before sunset. During these precious times of the day, streams of light can do amazing things to buildings, fields, mountains, and people. Composition does not have to be complicated during golden hour; even a phone camera can take professional-looking shots.
- Get Artsy: by taking different art classes that specialise in topics such as watercolours, oil paintings, or sketching, you will gain essential skills that will transfer over to your photography. Such as? A sharp eye for detail and, most importantly, composition. What is image composition? The structure of an image can be described as the way all elements within the frame are combined to form a final picture. Therefore, by taking art classes, amateur photographers become better at placing different components in a scene, and better images are taken.
- Use Traditional Film: when photography beginners are limited to using one film with a set of numbered shots, they become more selective as to which chances are worthy of "wasting" film on. Amateurs start to focus more on their subject and study it effectively before shooting at a distance and angle that makes sense to you.
- Move Around: consistently staying in the same position is not always better in photography. For example, many experts suggest bending to the side, getting on a stool, and lying down on the ground to get the best shot. By changing your position and the angle, an ordinary image becomes something special.
By following the tips, tricks, and advice from today's article, the wild and untamed places explored by wildlife photographers can be beautifully and effortlessly shot to show earth's inhabitants what a beautiful place we call home.