If what you want for a living is to be able to travel, get involved with nature and you love observing wild animals, you are a true wildlife photographer at heart. However, if you want to be successful, you will need more than just knowing very well the technique to take amazing photographs. Actually, when you are a professional nature photographer, you end up acting as a convinced naturalist; you will see yourself thoroughly studying each species you are going to photograph; and, in theory, you will take the welfare of animals very seriously, no matter if you need to sacrifice your dream picture. You can even find an ethical code developed by the associations of nature photographers; these measures you will help you protect the dignity and freedom of animals in their environment, as well as improve your safety while doing your job given the fact that some species might react violently when their territory is being invaded.
It doesn’t mean that, if you follow these rules, you will be safe; not even the best photographers are. Sadly, it was the case of Michio Hoshino who died in 1996 when a bear that he was photographing attacked him, in Kurilskoya Lake, Russia. But this is just an example of many; a few years ago, another photographer died in Svalbard attacked by a polar bear, and two other died attacked by sharks in Seychelles. You might start wondering and reflecting upon the risks of this profession, even questioning the act of invading the territory of dangerous wild animals. Well, many wildlife photographers have also been analyzing these aspects and they have come to some conclusions regarding limits: the ones you can really take and the ones that are desirable.
Anyway, you cannot deny that this profession gives a great opportunity to travel around the world and see animals that probably most people will never directly see in their whole lives.
As a wildlife photographer, you will find yourself struggling with your own impulses when you see the perfect opportunity to photograph dangerous animals. That is why you must be well informed and behave responsibly. You can watch many videos of wild animals reacting to what they consider an invasion of their space and you will notice that their behavior is unpredictable. Fortunately, that is not your case; you can definitely set limits to your actions and remember, at all times, the reason why this type of life is called “wild”. Additionally, you want to bear in mind the following aspects regarding the attitude you should have towards this profession:
- You need to be respectful of land properties and might need to apply for the necessary permits to do your job as this activity is regulated in certain areas. You better be well informed before going to a natural park so that you can determine the conditions under which your job can be done. For instance, some countries have state regulations that imply for you to have an authorization to carry out activities such as scientific capturing of wild animals, carrying out processes of photography, filming, and observing protected species, doing sports that may affect wildlife, and so on.
- You want to make part of the landscape, so it is advisable for you to avoid wearing flashy clothes or fabrics that make noise when you move, or perfumes that can make you easily noticeable in the natural place where you are. You also need to protect the tripod with foam rubber to also avoid noise when there is a collisions with other objects, especially if you are in a hide.
- You must keep quiet and alert to capture the best of wildlife. You better be patience and try to find out a comfortable and partially hidden place that cover up your presence; this will allow animals to get close to you which is the option you have to observe them. The longer you go unnoticed, the more likely it is that certain species will approach you without feeling threatened. At this point, you must know well the minimum safety distance you need to ensure you will be ok.
- You will be using your ear more than any other sense to find wildlife. You might take some time to educate them to capture any indication that the species you are seeking is close, for instance, branches creaking, flutters, sounds to call other members of the same species. You might even learn how to distinguish one species from another.
- You will have to be prepared to use technology on your favor. You might see your dream photograph ruined by an animal standing up in front of the hide at a time when the light is not so convenient, that is why you might need to use the flash in order to eliminate unwanted shadows. Additionally, you may need a good and bright telephoto lens if you have to keep a distance of at least 100 m from the observed animal.