Animal & Wildlife Photographers
Interested in animal and wildlife photography? Want to know what gear professional wildlife photographers use?
You’ve come to the right place.
As we take a peek into the camera bags of dozens of animal photographers, we can learn about what does and doesn’t work for them, as well as their tips and tricks for starting out in the genre.
When we think of animal photography, what springs to mind is likely the image of a National Geographic photographer lying in the grass, lens poised to capture a pride of wild lions on the hunt.
And that’s certainly part of it.
But this category of photography encompasses all kinds of creatures as subjects (provided they’re not human!).
Another sub-genre that applies here is pet photography. Yes, some people take portraits of adorable kittens and puppies for a living.
Birds and macro shots of insects can also be classed under animal photography.
Depending on which sub-category you want to focus on will depend on how you approach your path into the field. While there are some common challenges between photographing a Golden Retriever chasing a tennis ball and a cheetah chasing a rabbit, there are many differences as well.
Equipment is just one of the considerations.
When heading out to photograph wildlife, you’ll need to take laws and regulations into account. You’ll also need to know how to photograph animals in the wild without disturbing their natural habits and habitat.
Domestic pets come with their own set of caveats. Expect to get a little bit messy (grubby paws and drool are all part of the job). Some degree of animal handling skills will also come in handy.
Pet photography also tends to have more creative scope in that you can pose photos and develop your own unique style. That’s not to say you can’t develop a style shooting wildlife – but odds are you’re not going to be dressing your great brown bear up in a cute Christmas costume.
As for gear, most kinds of animal, bird and wildlife photography involve quick-moving subjects, which means you need to be equipped to grab the moment before it passes.
An essential item, of course, is a capable camera – look for a DSLR or good quality mirrorless camera body.
For capturing animals in the wild, a telephoto lens is usually the ideal choice as you might need to remain quite far away from the action. Whether you go for a zoom or prime lens will depend largely on what you’re shooting and personal preference.
Many photographers have a combination of zooms and primes in their kits.
Pet photographers will usually be closer to the subject, so portrait lenses – even a little “nifty fifty” – can be the go.
If you want to try your hand at wildlife and bird photography, you might also like to invest in some other gear as well.
As you’ll see from peeking inside the pro photographers’ bags here on Shotkit, some useful items include binoculars, headlamp, tripod, and a durable waterproof camera bag or backpack.
Ready to find out some tips from the pros? Dive into their bags above.