Safety comes first when photographing wildlife. It may be tempting for you to get as close as possible to the animal that would make your dream shot possible, but in turn you may end up putting yourself in a dangerous situation that could have otherwise been avoided. To ensure you get the best photos possible while remaining as safe as possible, consider the following eight safety tips for wildlife photography.
1. Research the animal before your adventure.
Find out the animal’s typical behavior, the other animals and plants it normally interacts with, and other information that may help you in the field. Prepare for any event, even the unexpected ones, by making sure you are able to move at a moment’s notice. Animal behavior can be difficult to predict, but if you are prepared, you should have no problem.
2. Observe the animal while you are taking photos.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your photography, but remember to always keep an eye out for what the animal may do next. Remaining aware will help you to predict whether the animal is getting nervous, about to run away from or toward you, or take part in some other unwanted activity.
3. Stay back to increase the animal’s comfort level.
You are essentially entering the animal’s home. Don’t convey yourself as a threat or the animal may treat you like one. Stay back far enough that the animal will still feel safe, while you will be able to get excellent photos without causing a disturbance.
4. Cut your group size in half.
Smaller groups are generally quieter and are better able to blend into the background, without scaring the animal.
5. Use recordings and calls sparingly.
What may seem harmless to you could negatively impact the animal in a major way. If the animal hears imitation calls that turn out to be fake on a frequent basis, they may no longer respond to other animals.
6. Stay quiet and within the animal’s sight.
Avoid spooking the animal with sudden, quick movement or loud noises.
7. Don’t linger longer than required.
This is especially important if you are observing an animal that is not able to get away from you if desired. Try to get the photos you aimed for and then leave the animal alone – don’t trap or confine the animal to small spaces.
8. Help others be respectful toward the animal as well.
If you see someone that may be putting themselves or others in danger, let them know. Chances are, the person is probably unaware of the potential consequences.
Remember, always keep an eye open to your surroundings and know when it’s time to back off. Don’t forget to enjoy the moment and observe the animals that let you into their world!
Which animals have you been lucky enough to spot in the wild?