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5 Different Approaches to Photographing Wildlife

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Grizzly bear, Yellowstone National Park, USA © Jeremy Flint

Wildlife photography is a popular genre of photography that documents various forms of wildlife in their natural habitat. Seeing and photographing animals in the wild has to be one of the most awe-inspiring experiences imaginable. Nothing compares to sighting a lion running across the Serengeti plains of Africa or a bison family roaming the lands of Yellowstone in the USA. Photographing your pets or animals in zoos can also be just as rewarding. Whether you are new to this genre of photography or have had some practice, here are 5 different approaches to photographing wildlife:

1. Shoot from the vehicle

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Tourist taking pictures, Yellowstone national park, USA © Jeremy Flint

When viewing and photographing animals in the wild you will want to keep a safe distance. They are wild for a reason and should not be approached. The best way to photograph them is generally from the comfort of your own vehicle.

Encountering animals can be a wonderful thrill, and although there may be an urge to get out of your vehicle for a better look, it is better not to take the risk. You can’t predict the behavior of animals very easily, so it is always safer just to stay in your vehicle and avoid any potential conflict.

Whether you have your own transport or are in a vehicle on a guided tour, they make great places to take pictures from. You can potentially position yourself nearer to the animals than if you were on foot and you can take pictures from a closer range compared with standing out in the open far away from the animal.

Photographing animals from a closer vantage point, and from the safety of your own vehicle, enables the use of a wide-angle lens. This can help to give your images more variety and a different angle to those images generally shot with a telephoto lens.

2. Aim for the skies

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Osprey in flight, Yellowstone national park, USA © Jeremy Flint

Another way to photograph wildlife is to keep an eye out for animals above you. Look upwards and aim for the skies. Photographing majestic birds in flight or circling above you are wonderful subjects to capture.

The beauty of birds in motion can be mesmerizing, especially when the light catches their body and lights up their feathers and wings. With so many different species of birds around the world, photographing birds can be inspiring. Birds move swiftly so be sure to select a fast shutter speed to capture the action.

3. Get on their level

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Elk, Yellowstone National Park, USA © Jeremy Flint

One of the best options for photographing wildlife is to get on their level. To add interesting shots of animals, crouch down and get yourself on the same elevation as the animal. Whilst taking pictures from the same height as the animal may be more demanding in the wild, it can result in cute pictures of pets, especially if they are looking right back at you.

4. Shoot from an elevated view

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Beaver, Yellowstone National Park, USA © Jeremy Flint

Wildlife can be notoriously challenging to photograph, and some wild animals, such as leopards, are renowned for being particularly elusive. Taking shots from an elevated view such as from a tower, the air or from a building can help to improve the sightings of these animals that may be hiding in the long grass.

Also, if you are on higher ground, you are more likely to be at the same height as birds flying past you. Taking photos of birds is surprisingly addictive, and capturing them flying by can produce great results.

5. Shoot from an enclosure

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Coyote, Yellowstone national park, USA © Jeremy Flint

When photographing animals in captivity, you will likely have restrictions in terms of where you can take photographs from. For example, visiting zoos, an enclosure, viewing area, or platform are great places to shoot from to capture the animals inside. By practicing shooting animals in your neighborhood or at your local zoo, it will help you to improve your wildlife photography and become more comfortable when shooting in the wild.


Photographing wildlife in their natural habitat can be a great photographic adventure for any aspiring photographer. Different ways to photograph wildlife include shooting from a vehicle, from the same height as the animal, from an elevated view, and an enclosure. Pointing your camera upwards is another great way to give a different perspective to taking pictures from inside your vehicle.

On your next adventure outdoors, whether that is a walk in the countryside, a visit to your local zoo or a trip of a lifetime to see majestic wildlife, don’t forget to take your camera.

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Jeremy Flint
Jeremy Flint

Jeremy Flint is an award-winning photographer and writer, specialising in travel, landscape and location photography and is known for documenting images of beautiful destinations, cultures and communities from around the world. Jeremy has won awards including the National Geographic Traveller Grand Prize and the Association of Photographers Discovery Award, besides being commended in Outdoor Photographer of the Year. He has also been a finalist in the Travel Photographer of the year and British Photography Awards several times. He has been commissioned by commercial and editorial clients worldwide including National Geographic Traveller, Country Life, Discover Britain, USA National Parks and Visit Britain and has travelled extensively to over 65 countries.

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