Tips and Tricks for Stunning Animal Photography

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No matter whether it’s wild lions, elephants, cheetahs or adorable woodland creatures – taking stunning animal photography requires patience and practice. Here are a few helpful hints and techniques to get you going!

One of the best ways to improve wildlife photography is to gain more knowledge about the animals you photograph. Doing this will allow you to gain more insight into their habits, personalities and patterns – which is essential if you wish to capture great images of wildlife!


Composition is key to creating stunning animal photography. It helps create a sense of balance and harmony in your photos while highlighting key aspects of each animal you photograph.

An effective image will communicate your intended message and emotion to its intended target audience in an understandable fashion. There are various established rules of composition you can employ in this effort, although as an artist you have the freedom to break them if necessary to deliver what you need to say effectively.

Negative space is another essential aspect of composition. Negative space refers to the breathing room around your subject that helps balance out its look and make it more pleasing to the eye; without enough negative space in a photo, it can appear cramped and disproportional.

When shooting portraits, leaving plenty of negative space around your subject is essential to ensure their face is properly positioned and creating an appealing composition. Doing this will also help make their portrait seem more balanced and pleasing to the eye.

There are various approaches to framing an animal subject within a frame, but it’s essential that you are mindful of its individual features. Elephants feature long trunks which can move in multiple directions while peacocks boast exquisite tails which open wide upon taking flight and Owls have large wingspans that easily pop out when taking flight.

Combine these distinct features with other elements of composition to produce more dynamic and captivating imagery. For instance, using symmetry as an element can lead viewers toward your focal point with their gaze.

Your wildlife photos should also feature interesting close-ups of intricate details, such as alligator scales, bison horns or the claws of a lizard. Although these details might not be readily noticeable to the naked eye, they provide your audience with something they can relate to and create an immersive storyline about your subject matter.


Lighting is key when photographing animals. Without enough light, you won’t be able to capture all the detail in their fur and show their true character in photos.

Bright sunlight is typically not recommended when it comes to wildlife photography as its harsh light creates unwanted shadows, which can leave unflattering images. Differed or overcast lighting offers an alternative that softens harsh sunlight’s harshness and can help avoid these issues.

Take into consideration how light is hitting your subject and where the sun is located. For optimal results, light should come from a low angle and strike directly from the side; this will provide more illumination on their face while making their eyes easier to see.

This technique is frequently employed when photographing portraits but can also work effectively when photographing pets. It requires three medium softboxes: key lights and main lights placed either side of your subject; as well as a hair light placed above and behind them.

As with any portrait session, you should aim for an ideal lighting setup with both key and fill lights positioned 4-5 feet off of the ground and 45 degrees apart from each other on either side of your pet. This ensures a healthy ratio between key and fill lights and gives your pet an authentic appearance.

When photographing animals indoors, be mindful of how much ambient lighting there is available. For instance, when photographing interior scenes featuring windows with bright sunlight pouring in through them, its light can often provide ample illumination.

Take into consideration the size of windows used when shooting inside. With large windows see how their size will impact light sources. For instance, in case of direct sunlight entering through an open window in a room can make for very bright images.

Telephoto Lenses

If you want to improve your animal photography, one of the key tools is purchasing a good telephoto lens. Telephoto lenses allow photographers to capture stunning shots from far distances while being ideal for photographing moving subjects.

Telephoto lenses are indispensable tools for wildlife photographers who work in remote areas where there may not be many opportunities to get close to their subjects. Furthermore, their lens compression effect makes objects appear closer than they actually are.

Considerations should be given to both minimum focus distance and magnification when purchasing a telephoto lens, to help ascertain if it fits with your specific needs and ensure maximum image quality.

Telephoto lenses boast an advantage when it comes to composition: their narrow angle of view allows photographers to easily exclude unwanted elements for cleaner pictures, making telephoto lenses ideal for landscape photography or isolating subjects against less stunning backgrounds. This feature can prove especially handy when photographing landscapes.

Telephoto lenses are often the superior focal length to achieve the right perspective while simultaneously preventing distortion – this feature can be especially helpful when photographing animals since you don’t want any misalignments between subjects.

Telephoto lenses tend to be heavier than other lenses, making it essential that you use a sturdy camera support when using one. This may be as simple as using a tripod or monopod; there are even accessories specifically designed to support such lenses such as monopods. Furthermore, as long focal length telephoto lenses are susceptible to camera shake, so make sure your model includes built-in image stabilization technology for optimal results.


Location can make all the difference when it comes to taking stunning animal photographs, from forests and beaches alike. Selecting an ideal spot is especially crucial when trying to capture wildlife in its natural environment.

Animal photography requires not only having the appropriate equipment but also understanding where you are located and the surrounding environment. Doing this will enable you to capture striking image series that conveys the story you wish to tell.

Some might assume that location only plays an important role when photographing landscapes or nature, but it’s equally as essential when photographing animals. Considerations include where light falls upon an area, what species can be found there and whether there’s enough wildlife there. When selecting a spot for wildlife photography, location selection must also consider light conditions as well as wildlife density and abundance.

Keep in mind that different animals behave differently in various environments, so when shooting wildlife in urban settings you will need to consider both your subject and background as part of the equation.

Wildlife parks are great places to find great spots for animal photography. There’s usually an easy-to-spot variety of animals here and they often show photographers where the ideal places are for taking shots from.

Zoos also have experts that provide information about specific species and their environments, making zoo visits an excellent way to enhance your skills and familiarize yourself with local animal life before venturing off into the wilderness yourself.

Ask around about any animals that you’re interested in to gain more information. Sam Hobson’s award-winning image of metropolitan foxes, Nosy Neighbour, was created after polling local street cleaners and night bus drivers about any sightings they may have had of foxes in their neighborhood.

An effective shot requires patience and an ability to read animal body language, in order to capture a stunning frame or angle for your photo.


Ash has been into cameras and photography for over 40 years, with 10 of those years as a professional photographer. His passion is to constantly strive to create better images and to pass on his knowledge to other budding photographers.

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