Wildlife photographers are often seen in the media as being on a never-ending adventure, and with a quick glance at their Instagram feed it can seem like they spend all their time out in the field, stalking lions or chasing whales. But it takes a lot more than an adventurous spirit to live this lifestyle. Being a professional wildlife photographer isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come cheap either. The vast majority of photographers don’t earn a living solely from photography, and instead supplement their income with writing books, leading tours or giving lectures, for example.
But for those who do make it their career, the perks are significant, with their photographs regularly published in magazines and even appearing on TV shows. If you want to be a wildlife photographer, the first thing you need is a passion for nature and animals. Secondly, you need to be well educated in the subject of your choice – whether it is birds, mammals, landscapes or anything else. It’s also important to know the basic biology of the animals you are photographing. This helps you understand their behavior and gives you a better chance of making that heart-grabbing image. It also helps you to better protect the animals by not putting them in situations where they are at unnecessary risk.
Next, it’s vital to invest in the right gear. A good camera, a wide-angle lens and a decent telephoto are a minimum, but more is often advisable. You’ll need to find out what type of lenses you are best suited to, as well as what kind of accessories you’ll need. And finally, it’s essential to develop your fieldcraft skills. These are the skills you will learn through years of experience that help you work efficiently in nature, reducing your impact on the environment and increasing your chances of success. One of the biggest challenges in wildlife photography is overcoming the frustration that comes with knowing you won’t always get the shot you want. It’s not unlike a lion waiting on the savanna for its prey; it may not be able to get that wildebeest, but it knows it will eventually have its chance to pounce on something.
The key is staying patient and being prepared. Another challenge is being able to tell the difference between a genuine, natural capture and an image that has been set up or enhanced in post-production. It’s important to be able to identify which is the case, especially when submitting photos for competitions or publication. In this member talk, award-winning wildlife photographer and dedicated conservationist Suzi Eszterhas shares what it’s really like to live this life. Spectacular animal images are paired with inspiring anecdotes and lessons to give readers an insider’s look at this exciting and fulfilling career.