9 Essential Tips for Stunning Wildlife Photos
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Be patient
  2. Use the right gear
  3. Understand animal behavior
  4. Use natural light wisely
  5. Get down to their level
  6. Focus on the eyes
  7. Capture action
  8. Shoot in RAW format
  9. Practice responsible photography

For those who love to capture the untamed elegance of nature, wildlife photography is a rewarding pursuit, full of surprises and learning opportunities. It's not just about having a good camera and a keen eye, but also about understanding the environment and the subjects you're photographing. This blog post shares nine nature photography wildlife tips that can transform your casual snaps into stunning wildlife photos. Let's dive in and explore the world of wildlife photography together.

Be patient

Patience is the first step to getting that perfect wildlife photo you've been dreaming of. Wildlife photography is not a sprint; it's a marathon. Remember, animals have their own rhythm and pace, and they're not going to pose just because you're ready with your camera.

  • Wait it out: You might need to wait for hours to get that perfect shot. But believe me, the feeling when you finally capture an elusive bird in flight or a deer's gentle gaze is worth all the waiting.
  • Keep your senses alert: While you're waiting, keep your eyes and ears open. Often, the subtle rustling of leaves or a distant birdcall can alert you to an upcoming shot.
  • Embrace the process: Instead of getting frustrated, embrace the waiting process. Use this time to observe the environment, understand animal behavior, or even just enjoy the serenity of nature.

Patience in wildlife photography isn't just about waiting, it's about being prepared for the unexpected and staying calm and composed even when the shot you've been waiting for hours doesn't turn out the way you wanted. It's a test of persistence, but with time, you'll find that this patient wait often leads to the most rewarding nature photography wildlife experiences.

Use the right gear

While skill and patience are the backbone of great wildlife photography, having the right gear comes in a close second. But don't worry, you don't need to break the bank to start. Here's a simple breakdown of the three most important pieces of gear you should consider:

  1. Camera: Any DSLR or mirrorless camera with manual controls should do the trick. The key is to understand your camera's settings and capabilities.
  2. Lens: A telephoto lens is a wildlife photographer's best friend. It allows you to shoot from a distance without disturbing the wildlife and also helps isolate your subject from its environment. Something in the range of 200-500mm would be a good start.
  3. Support: A tripod or monopod can be a lifesaver, especially when you're shooting with a heavy telephoto lens. It not only reduces camera shake but also saves you from the fatigue of holding the camera for long periods.

Beyond these basics, there are plenty of other accessories that can enhance your wildlife photography, like filters to manage light, remote triggers for those shy creatures, or even a good camera bag to protect your gear from the elements. Remember, the right gear doesn't make great photos, it's how you use them that counts. So, invest in understanding your equipment and honing your skills, and you'll be well on your way to capturing breathtaking nature photography wildlife shots.

Understand animal behavior

Imagine trying to photograph a moving target without knowing its next move. Sounds tricky, right? That's exactly why understanding animal behavior is a game changer in nature photography wildlife tips.

Animals, just like us, follow certain patterns and routines. Some animals are more active during certain times of the day. Others might have specific hunting or feeding behaviors. By studying these patterns, you'll be able to predict their movements and capture more engaging shots.

For example, many birds have a "pre-flight" posture that they consistently exhibit just before taking off. If you learn to recognize this, you can be ready to capture that perfect moment of flight. Similarly, understanding the patterns of larger animals like deer or bears can help you safely position yourself for a great shot without disturbing them or putting yourself in danger.

So, how do you learn about animal behavior? Books, documentaries, and online resources are a great start. Better yet, spend time observing the wildlife you want to photograph. The more time you spend with them, the more you'll understand their habits and quirks. And remember, patience is key here. The more patient you are, the more you'll be rewarded with unique and powerful images.

Understanding animal behavior not only enhances your photography skills, but it also deepens your connection with nature. It's a win-win situation.

Use natural light wisely

When it comes to nature photography wildlife tips, mastering the use of natural light is a must. Unlike studio photography, you can't control the lighting in wildlife photography. But, the good news is, you can learn to use it to your advantage.

First things first, let's talk about the "Golden Hours". These are the times around sunrise and sunset when the light has a beautiful warm quality. Not only does this soft, diffused light make for stunning colors, but it also casts long shadows that can add depth and dimension to your photos.

But what about the rest of the day? Don't worry, it's not all about the Golden Hours. Even harsh midday light can create striking images if used correctly. For instance, you can use the strong shadows to create contrast and highlight specific features of the animals.

And let's not forget about overcast days. The clouds act as a natural diffuser, spreading the light evenly and reducing harsh shadows. This makes it a perfect condition for capturing the intricate details of wildlife.

Finally, remember that light isn't just about illumination. It's a tool you can use to set the mood, tell a story, and bring your photos to life. So, don't fight the light — embrace it, experiment with it, and let it elevate your wildlife photos to new heights.

Get down to their level

Ever noticed how most wildlife photos you admire have a certain intimacy to them? That's because those photographers have mastered one of the best nature photography wildlife tips — getting down to the animal's level.

When you're shooting from a human’s eye level, it's like you're observing the wildlife from a distance. But when you get down to the animal's eye level, it changes the entire perspective. This simple shift can make your photos feel more immersive and engaging, as if the viewer is right there in the scene with the animal.

Practically speaking, this might mean lying flat on your stomach or kneeling down. Yes, you might get a bit dirty, but trust me, the results are worth the effort. Not only does it provide a more intimate perspective, but it also helps to isolate the subject against the background, making the animal stand out.

So next time you're out in the wild with your camera, don't be afraid to go low. It's not about capturing the wildlife from your perspective, but about seeing the world from theirs. And who knows? You might discover a whole new side of wildlife photography that you never knew existed.

Focus on the eyes

When scrolling through your photos, have you ever noticed how your attention naturally drifts towards the eyes? That's no coincidence. Our brains are wired to look for eyes. So when it comes to nature photography wildlife tips, focusing on the eyes is a game-changer.

When the eyes of the animal are in sharp focus, it instantly draws the viewer in. It creates a sense of connection and emotion, almost as if the animal is looking right back at you. It makes a difference between a good photo and a stunning one.

But, how do you ensure that those eyes are in focus? Well, here's a tip: use the auto-focus feature of your camera and set your focus point directly on the animal's eyes. This might mean you have to manually adjust the focus points sometimes, but it’s a small price to pay.

Remember, eyes are the window to the soul—even for animals. The next time you're out in the wild, don't just aim your lens at the animal, aim for the eyes. It might take a little practice, but once you've got it down, you're on your way to capturing truly stunning wildlife photos.

Capture action

Looking to add some extra spark to your nature photography wildlife portfolio? Consider capturing action. An antelope in mid-leap, a bird taking flight, or a squirrel scampering up a tree can turn a standard wildlife photo into an unforgettable snapshot.

Now, capturing action isn't as easy as it sounds. Animals are unpredictable and wait for no one. You have to be ready to shoot at the right moment. One way to do this is by using the burst mode on your camera. Burst mode allows you to take several shots in quick succession. So, when that eagle spreads its wings, you'll be ready to capture every moment of the action.

Another handy tip is to use a fast shutter speed. This allows you to freeze the action and capture the details, without any blur. Try experimenting with different shutter speeds to see what works best for you.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you practice capturing action, the better you'll get at anticipating animal behavior and nailing those shots. So, get out there and start clicking!

Shoot in RAW format

Let's get a bit technical now. When it comes to nature photography wildlife tips, one often overlooked advice is to shoot in RAW format. You might wonder, "Why should I bother with RAW when JPEG is so much easier?" Well, let me explain.

Shooting in RAW allows you to capture all the data from the sensor. This means you get high quality images with more detail, better color, and wider dynamic range. It's like having a more detailed canvas to work with when you start editing your photos.

On the other hand, JPEG files are compressed. While they take up less space on your memory card, they lose some data and quality in the process. And once you've lost that data, you can't get it back.

Yes, RAW files are larger and require more post-processing. But the level of control it gives you over your images is worth it. You can adjust exposure, white balance, and other settings without damaging the quality of your photo. In fact, you can often rescue details from shadows and highlights that you didn't know were there!

So next time you're out in the wild with your camera, consider switching to RAW. It might take a bit more effort, but your photos will thank you.

Practice Responsible Photography

Here's the thing about nature photography—yes, it's about capturing stunning images, but it's also about respect. Respect for the environment, respect for the animals, and respect for others who also enjoy the great outdoors.

One of the most important nature photography wildlife tips, therefore, is to practice responsible photography. But what does that mean exactly? Let's break it down:

Respect the Environment: Stick to the trails and don't trample plants or disturb habitats. Remember, you're a guest in nature. Also, avoid leaving any trash behind. In fact, if you see litter, pick it up. As photographers, it's part of our job to help protect the places we love to photograph.

Respect the Animals: Maintaining a safe distance is crucial. Not only for your safety but also for the welfare of the animals. Don't try to bait or lure animals for a better shot—trust me, it's not worth it. Also, remember that flash photography can scare or harm animals, so it's best to avoid it.

Respect Other People: If you're photographing in popular spots, be mindful of other visitors. Don't hog the best views or block pathways. And if you're photographing people, always ask for permission first.

So, there you have it—how to practice responsible photography. Remember, it's not just about getting the perfect shot. It's also about being a good steward of nature and leaving a positive impact. After all, we want future generations to enjoy the beauty of wildlife as much as we do, right?

If you enjoyed our "9 Essential Tips for Stunning Wildlife Photos" blog post and want to further explore the connection between nature, photography, and mindfulness, check out the workshop 'Using Nature and Photography as a Form of Meditation' by Louis Bever. This workshop will teach you how to use your photography skills to connect with nature on a deeper level and find inner peace through the art of capturing wildlife.