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Wildlife Photographer

Wildlife Photographer

Wildlife photography is a loosely-defined profession which demands a passion for nature and art. Wildlife photographers make a career of traveling to remote areas and taking pictures of wild animals and natural scenery.

Wildlife photography began as a hobby of safari hunters, in the early 1900s, who found photographs to be less violent and more permanent reminders of their adventures than the slaying and stuffing of a wild animal. Modern photographers often began as artists, biologists, or park rangers, and taught themselves the technical aspects of the field.

Classes in wildlife photography are offered at colleges and art schools around the world, and many organized safaris and expeditions also provide training and photographic opportunities. Wildlife photographs can be sold to greeting card companies, printed as posters, sold as stock photography, collected into a book, displayed in an art gallery, or sold to a magazine. Additionally, some wildlife photographers are hired full-time by nature magazines.

Wildlife photography is a demanding and competitive vocation. Traveling to isolated areas is expensive, as is the photographic equipment necessary for professional quality photos. The work itself is physically and mentally taxing, requiring patience and perfectionism. Because wild animals are wary of humans, wildlife photographers must use a hide to get close enough for a clear photograph. Hides are made of anything that conceals form and movement, such as a tiny tent with an opening for the camera, or a car with tinted windows.

Even with a hide, the photographer may have only several seconds in which to take the photo, due to the unpredictability of wild animals, making agility and patience necessary traits. Persistence is also useful. Obtaining special permission to visit national parks in restricted regions or after hours is often essential, although it can be very difficult to accomplish. In addition, the photographer must research the photographic site to understand local lighting conditions, weather, the habits of local

wildlife, and the customs of local peoples. Only the best wildlife photographers earn enough money to support themselves entirely with their photographs.

Rebecca M. Steinberg


Shaw, John. The Nature Photographer's Complete Guide to Nature Photography. New York: Garsington, 2000.

Angel, Heather. Natural Visions: Creative Tips for Wildlife Photography. New York: Amphoto Books, 2000.

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