The most interesting and attractive field of Photography known to one and all is Wildlife Photography. Nowadays, it is an all-time favorite passion for many new upcoming photographers. The stunning images of wild animals and birds with their actions and movements come to our minds whenever we hear the word wildlife photography. The scope and career in wildlife photography, the best wildlife photography courses, and colleges, jobs, and salaries, essential equipment are few such topics thus discussed here in the Wildlife Photography an ultimate guide.
Wildlife photographs always bring liveliness and a kind of interaction in the frame.
Because, the best wildlife photography can make the viewers feel the action and movements of the wild in the frame.
Well, Wildlife photography seems to be very attractive, but in reality, it is much tougher than any other professional photography field. Let’s check out here, what exactly Wildlife Photography is and what are the techniques used in it and why Wildlife Photography is so popular.
What is Wildlife?
Wild refers to the flora and fauna that are plants and animals respectively, living or growing in the natural environment. Hence, wildlife is usually those that are not domesticated or cultivated. It also refers to all the living organisms that are formed and living without human interference in the forest. Hence, wildlife can be found in all ecosystems such as forest, grassland, rain-forest, deserts, etc… Each has its own life cycle of different species.
As in whole, wildlife includes all organisms undomesticated and that grow or live wild in an area without being any direct influence by human beings. Usually, we can be find wildlife in all ecosystems.
There are various types of Wildlife on Earth. If we could categories it would be namely mammals, birds, plants, insects, reptiles, fish, and amphibians. Since, each of these wildlife survives in varied environments and in varied conditions, they have different behaviours too.
What is Wildlife Photography?
Although wildlife refers to both plants and animals; but when it comes to photography most of us are more interested in the category of animals and birds photography. It might be because animals and birds are movable and are found in different actions. This indeed attracts the photographers to frame those actions.
Types of Wildlife Photography
We can therefore differentiate wildlife photography into seven different categories namely mammals photography, birds photography, macro photography, photography of reptiles, fish, amphibians and plants.
The Use of Wildlife Photography
The importance of wildlife photography is less known to all. In fact, most of the upcoming photographers get attractive to this field due to certain influences. For instance, we would notice that television channels and magazines based on wildlife photography and videography have played this role of influences.
Now we could understand clearly the importance of wildlife photography when a large part of the society needs wildlife photographs in and for various reasons. Such as the most known use of wildlife photographs is in Digital media. In fact, the wildlife television channels, youtube channels on wildlife, online websites based on wildlife, etc…. would be nothing without the appropriate wildlife photos and videos. One such example is the usage of wildlife photographs in this article of “Wildlife Photography An Ultimate Guide”.
Where are wildlife photographs being used?
Wildlife Conservation is one of the major reasons, where wildlife photography has a vital role to play. Protecting the wild species and its habitat is very much important for the balancing of the Eco-system. Therefore, wildlife photographs is also a need in the tourism department and the forest department.
Similarly, the printing media such as magazines, newspapers, brochures, books, educational books etc… have a greater demand for wildlife photography.
Education and awareness are therefore the other two essential purposes of wildlife photography. Many times its the Wildlife photographs that help to bring up awareness about the existing wild species in terms of their population, diverse species, genes, etc… that exists on Earth. Hence, wildlife photography has become an essential tool for ecologists, biologists, and environmentalists, etc…
Wildlife photographs hold powerful ability to convey the world the importance of the other creatures. And therefore at the same time helps us to fulfill the responsibility we have as human beings towards these species who share the nature and natural environment with us.
A Wildlife Photographer
A Wildlife Photographer is the one who aims in capturing the images of the wildlife. The subject in their frame is the wild species either animals, birds, insects, reptiles, etc… Most of the time, wildlife photographers frame their subjects in their natural habitat. While in rare situations, one could find the wild species in unusual regions too.
The adventurous photographs and the wild living beings in their actions have attracted one and all. And has thus encouraged them towards wildlife photography. Indeed, it has made many of us choose, it as our professional career.
The Role of a Wildlife Photographer
The role of a wildlife Photographer is quite different from what usually other professional photographers do. Thus, the working situations and the purpose of photography is different for a wildlife photographer.
Education, Entertainment, and Awareness are the three important milestones where a wildlife photographer plays a strong and responsible role. Mostly, its the entertainment and craze that leads the photographers towards wildlife photography. And furthermore, when it comes in terms of a particular project for education and awareness, wildlife photographer takes up this passionate job with responsibility and dedication.
Best Wildlife Photographers
Around the world, there are a number of wildlife photographers. Therefore, many of them are new to the field. Some of them are making their livelihood through wildlife photography. While few of them have made a remarkable place in the industry. Hence, here we have mentioned the names of a handful of best wildlife photographers in the World.
- Martin Bailey
- Jon Cornforth
- Annette Bonnier
- Matthew Smith
- Frans Lanting
- Marina Cano
- Cristina Mittermeier
- Nick Brandt
- Rathika Ramasamy
- Nick Nichols
- Michael Nichols
- Sunjoy Monga
How do I become a Professional Wildlife Photographer?
The purpose of one’s photography is very important. We must understand why and where to photograph. Unlike any other genre of photography, wildlife photography is not an easy task. A wildlife photographer needs to have lots of patience in his or her work. And at the same time love towards the wild living things and nature around. For instance, here are the 10 steps recommended to become a Wildlife Photographer.
- Develop the Fundamental Photography Skills
The basic and the most essential factor is to master your camera. One must be able to skillfully apply the photography and camera techniques at appropriate time.
- Acquire Professional Photography Education
Become an educated photographer from a reputed college which not only allows you to learn and experience photography but also increase ones inner confidence.
- Select appropriate Camera, Lens, and accessories
Proper gears are important for the best results. Hence, choose the best and comfortable camera, lens, and other equipment.
- Become a good keen observer
You should have the presence of mind, observe the surroundings sharply, and never allow yourself to miss any actionable moment and expression of the wildlife.
- Edit and rework on your Photographs by yourself
Learn to edit and rework on your own images by self. Because it’s you who know what and how to display in your images.
- Practice the qualities such as patience and be faster
Be quicker and a fast decision-maker and patient. Wild creatures never pose to your frame. Hence compose them with patience and in their comfortable real world.
- Build your Wildlife Photography Portfolio
Prepare your wildlife photography portfolio with some of your best Masterpiece photographs in the form of a printed portfolio, the self online website will be more worth to display your works and portfolio.
- Market Your Wildlife photography works
Marketing your work is as important as your field work. In addition, learn and apply the offline and online digital marketing techniques.
- Be ready to travel and cope up with any situations
Get ready with all your gears to travel at destination and at any time. And at the same time must blend with the situations and surroundings.
- Don’t wait for the opportunities. Rather make every moment as a good opportunity.
Best is yet to come. But, don’t wait and waste any of the golden chances.
The skills required to become a Wildlife Photographer
A Wildlife Photographer surely needs knowledge in Photography, camera and lens techniques, editing, and proper use of it. While he or she requires to have several qualities and skills apart from the technical understandings. Because these skills help photographers to survive in the field. Henceforth, find some of those skills here.
- Skill to apply Creativity
- Sharp Observation
- Extreme Patience
- Ability to work under pressure
- Presence of mind
- Good communication skills
- Ability to blend in any situations
- Love and respect for nature
As a passionate wildlife photographer, you often need to travel a lot, it might be a pro planned traveling while many times it’s all of a sudden in short notice. Moreover, one has to be always physically and mentally fit to get into a fit with the profession of wildlife photography.
Wildlife Photography Courses
There are various photography courses available for different duration and structures. Whereas the completely dedicated wildlife photography courses are offered by very few reputed colleges around the world. Some of them offer certificate courses while a few others offer degree and diploma courses in wildlife photography.
Before the selection of the photography course, one must understand what is actually photography education. Hence, here we need to know what is wildlife photography education and what a person need to expect from any course.
What is Wildlife Photography Education?
Knowledge and education is the key factor for being successful in any profession. Wildlife photography education brings awareness of the basics and fundamentals of the camera and photography, wildlife species and behavior, ethology, ecology, wildlife conservation, and management, etc… Hence, the importance of wildlife photography education is also experienced with the learning of the conservation of wildlife species and nature.
Along with the above factors, wildlife photography education also needs to provide the use of editing as well as digital marketing. Indeed, an appropriate course in wildlife photography can help us in achieving the knowledge, education, and experience in wildlife photography.
The selection of the apt course is up-to each individual. While selecting a course one can surely research and analyze what exactly one needs to achieve from the course. Thus, the best way to choose the wildlife photography course is to first find out which type, of course, can give you all the essential requirements to become a wildlife photographer. As per ones choice and especially the willingness to invest one’s time and money, one must select the course for the same.
Different Courses in Wildlife Photography
A degree course is of three years duration and might include other topics or subjects in the course, making the course curriculum one year lengthy. If you are one of those who are capable to patiently complete the course with full dedication then surely such a degree course in wildlife photography is for you. But, if you are not, then the next choice is a Wildlife photography course of one-year duration. Since the period of study is just one year, the course will enable you to completely concentrate on specializing in Wildlife photography, an ultimate guide.
And once the course is been decided, the next task is to find an appropriate college or academy for the same. Read our article on how to find the best photography colleges to understand how you can understand which is best? Along with the course in wildlife photography tours to different forests, and sanctuaries are important to experience the real world wildlife photography. Hence, while choosing the college, do short-list the best college that has its own campus, apt course, practical tours and visits, and portfolio making etc…
Best Wildlife Photography College
There are very few colleges around the world that offer full-time complete Wildlife Photography courses. While many of the colleges offer a specialized category in wildlife photography as one of the modules in their course. On the other hand, there are colleges that conduct a complete course for wildlife photography.
One can easily search the list of those few colleges name by simply surfing through google.
For instance, we have made a search for the best wildlife photography courses.
To find the best college that offers a Wildlife photography course is to first understand your requirements, analyze which course can provide you the same, and then find a suitable course for pursuing it. Finally, let’s find out how to find the best college to learn photography with a specialization in wildlife.
Few tips to find the best wildlife photography college
- College must have a good campus and located in a place apt for learning and experiencing photography in its real sense. It must have a calm, beautiful, and picturesque campus surrounded by the natural environment, away from the busy crowd and very much apt for the study of Photography with various birds, butterflies, and insects in the campus area.
- Wildlife photography course offered by the College must have the syllabus that includes mastering of DSLR camera and its various equipment, instructions on nature and wildlife photography, understanding and study of wildlife animals, birds, insects and it’s behavior. Finally, you need to acquire the skills to capture those still and moving interesting subjects as well as composition, and framing techniques.
- The college that conducts regular wildlife photography tours so that students get good opportunities to explore in the field and thus practice the skills.
- Mentors who provide fulltime guidance and also help students in their wildlife tours.
- The college that guides students in the making of their wildlife photography portfolio, in capturing, editing, and marketing too.
- The guidance provided by the college in internship and placement.
What are the Wildlife Photography Job Opportunities?
Photography is definitely a passionate field. Apart from being just a hobby, photography has now become a means for livelihood. There are various opportunities and scope in Photography. But particularly, people come up with a big question of how wildlife photography can become a profession in terms of earning?
Scope for Wildlife Photography
Unlike any other professional photography field, wildlife photography is expensive. While the survey shows that the photographers keen on wildlife photography is more as compared to any other photography streams. Moreover, among the new generation, 7 out of 10 are interested in wildlife photography. But, the increasing investment, as well as expense and reducing income, has been always an obstruction to continue as a wildlife photographer. On the contrary, it doesn’t mean that there are no job opportunities in wildlife photography. Let’s find out what are the job opportunities in wildlife photography?
Wildlife photography is a highly competitive career and offers opportunities for one’s creativity and working skills. Firstly, it is a profession that requires a great passion and love for nature and wildlife. Secondly, a profession that has risk, and adventurous too. And finally, a profession that inputs greater responsibility and as a return give more popularity and fame. The scope for the profession of wildlife photography is in special projects and assignments for television channels, NGO’s, newspapers, magazines, publications houses, advertising agencies, government agencies, and other media houses.
Wildlife Photography Jobs
Spending a long time in different situations and wild environments with heavy lenses and gears is a part of wildlife photography jobs. But taking pictures at the right time is more important in this field.
- Television Channels
- Magazines and other printing media
- Government Projects
- Wildlife Organizations
- Ecological Department
- Online Websites for Photo sale
- Freelance Photography
One may surely have to face the starting troubles in this profession. You would have heard several stories from well-known and legendary wildlife photographers regarding their struggles and success stories. They used to wait under the trees, behind the rocks and in the bushes to get those perfect shots for a pretty very long time. Waiting for some perfect and action shots for hours, days, weeks and sometimes, in fact, months is a part of every project. Often, it is only the passion for this field that helps the wildlife photographer to overcome all those struggles.
How to Make Income as a Wildlife Photographer?
The ultimate aim of accepting any professional career is the income that one can gain from it. Without income, one may lose interest in the field itself. Hence, in the case of wildlife photography, one can expect the income in a slow manner. While the investment of one’s time and money is much bigger in the starting stage of the career.
- Work as a freelance wildlife photographer and earn as per project
- Sell your wildlife photographs in Online media like various websites
- Sell your wildlife photographs in print media like newspapers and magazines
- Work for particular wildlife programs in television channels
- Conduct wildlife photography exhibitions and sell your images
- Work for publication houses
- Work for NGO’s and other organizations
Most of the wildlife photographers always dream to work for reputed television channels based on wildlife like National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery, etc… As everyone won’t get the opportunity to work for those platforms, many of the upcoming photographers work as a freelance wildlife photographer. Moreover, it gives them free space to work creatively as well as share their works with varied media at the same time.
Now, let’s talk about what would be the income or salary a wildlife photographer.
The Salary for Wildlife Photographer
As in any job, the salary or earnings for a wildlife photographer starts from a smaller amount and increases gradually in the coming years. On average, a wildlife photographer may earn approximately $100 to $200 (Rs.8000/ to Rs.15000/) in a month during the beginning of his or her professional career. Whereas, a professional wildlife photographer may earn quite more with an average of around approximately $250 to $1400 (Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 1 lakh) a month and or a project.
Travel, tour, and nature magazines also work with wildlife photographers on a regular as well as part-time basis. It indeed helps as a medium for every photographer to establish their works. And in addition, make money out of it. Therefore, Some of these publications might even hire full or part-time wildlife photographers as content providers.
Altogether, online websites like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, etc., are a great way to start selling and making money in a small way.
The one another best way to make money from wildlife images is by working for publication houses or agencies. But, it’s again not an easy task as the sale of photographs will not be a daily or weekly business. Hence, always remember that the images should be storytelling and should make an eye-catching interest for the viewers.
Wildlife Photography Tips and Tricks
Wildlife photography requires patience and good luck. Therefore, if we want to improve our photographic skills and technique in photography, we need to practice being patient. Let’s see some easy tricks and tips to be followed.
- Make a pre-understanding of the location
- Learn about the animals and or birds or your subject and their behavior before you go for the shoot
- Carry only the most essential lens and equipment for the shoot
- Use protection material for yourself and all your gears
- Use the right camera settings and make some of the settings in prior
- Carry a good tripod and use it carefully
- Keep a clear understanding of the rules of composition and apply it
- Dress your self as per the weather conditions of the location
- Use low photography angle at certain situations
- Sometimes, use a wide-angle lens to compose your animal in a wide view in its natural habitat
- Use telelens where you want to compose your subject for a mere close-up look
Wildlife Photography Equipment
The equipment or camera gears play a vital role in wildlife photography. Better gears can help in getting the best results. Usually, wildlife photographers need to invest additionally for these accessories. Although the expense is more, in this case, the outcome of the wildlife photographs manages all. Moreover, the most important equipment required for wildlife photography in terms of animal photography, birds photography, as well as macro photography are as follows.
- A comfortable Camera
- Telephoto lens for Animals and Birds photography
- Macro Lens for Macro Photography
- Wide-angle lens for some situations
- Tele Converters
- Rain cover
- Memory cards and battery grid
- Simple clothing camouflage to nature
- Water-proof Shoes
Some of the best cameras for wildlife photography
Canon 1DX Mark II
Canon 7D Mark II
Sony a7R III
Wildlife Photography an Ultimate Guide for all
As a wildlife photographer or a passionate upcoming photographer in this field, we need to realize that, it is one of the toughest, craziest, creative, responsible, challenging, and struggling fields. Take up the task with dedication and enthusiasm without harming other living species. As we need to rely on nature for our survival, there are other living creatures that rely on the same nature for their survival. Let your lenses see them, let your cameras frame them, and let your heart and hand nourish them.
Henceforth, the essential factor for Wildlife photography is the wildlife itself. Let them live. Let them be conserved and be only shot by the camera view. Ultimately, to survive in this field, follow the rule
“Stick to 1000 days continuous work policy”.
Put your complete dedication in the field for consecutive 1000 days. On the positive side, we hope our coverage on Wildlife Photography an ultimate guide would help you in understanding this professional field in a very clear aspect.
To find apt wildlife photography jobs, you need to have good contacts with other wildlife photographers, updated with channels and magazines and the best way is also to be always aware of the latest notifications on jobs of your particular country. And therefore with this in mind, one should also refer to the job vacancies in various recruitment companies and agencies.
1. Martin Bailey
2. Jon Cornforth
3. Annette Bonnier
4. Matthew Smith
5. Frans Lanting
Wildlife photographers can make money by selling images and videos through stock images companies. However, there are other ways too. For instance, making their own productions, wildlife documentaries, and short films for televisions and you-tube channels, conducting workshops, classes, and lectures on wildlife photography.
Canon 1DX Mark II
Canon 7D Mark II
Sony a7R III
Creative Hut Institute of Photography
Light and Life Academy
Find the best college that offers a course in Wildlife photography by understanding your requirements, analyzing which course can provide you the same, and then find a suitable course for pursuing it. Hence, here are a few tips to find the best wildlife photography college.
1. Location of the institute suitable for exploring the photography techniques
2. Wildlife photography course
3. Conducts wildlife photography tours for students.
4. College helps students to make a portfolio.
5. Provides internship and placement.
With this in mind, you may also refer and read our article on how to find the best photography colleges.
Professional Diploma in Wildlife Photography Course
The Diploma in Wildlife Photography
Diploma in Nature and Wildlife Photography
Author: This article is contributed by the Photographer R. Jaganath, Tamil Nadu, India
References: Images and information from various online resources