Wildlife Week: Connect

April 20, 2010

Photo Tips, Wildlife

Copperhead Snake, Chatham County, NC

[Editors Note: This week we are having a Wildlife Photography Tip every day here on DPE. Rick is also doing a tip a day on People photography over on his personal blog, make sure to check it out.]

I don’t often hear many people talk about connecting with your subject when shooting wildlife, after all how can a human connect with an animal, right?

Well, I can tell you categorically that yes you can connect with your animal subjects, but more importantly you want your viewers to connect with the subjects in your photos.

Here are a few tips on creating a connection between your photos subject and viewer:

  • A Different Perspective – I review quite a few images from amateur wildlife photographers asking for feedback on their work. And I have to tell you that the biggest mistake I see people make is photographing an animal from standing height, usually looking down at the animal. This, in my opinion, is the quickest way to make an otherwise spectacular subject look rather ordinary. The reason for this is that as humans we are used to seen the world from standing height, when you create an image that provides a different perspective, a different point-of-view if you will, you are providing your viewer something different to look at.
  • Eye Level – To make a connection, you need to be looking at your subject at eye level. So get down, lie on your belly if you must. I’ve been known to lie down and crawl on geese poop for hours to get down low enough to connect at eye level with my subjects. An added benefit to this, is that animals will see you as less threatening when you are at eye level to them.
  • The Right Pose – Capturing your subject at the right pose is key to presenting them in as favorable way as possible. Additionally the right pose should present your subject in as a natural state as possible. I have a comprehensive article on this on an earlier post here on DPE titled “Why Pose is so Important

I hope these few tips help you in creating a stronger connection with your subjects.

Nutria (invasive species), Lake Mattamuskeet, NC

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This post was written by:

- who has written 347 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Juan is a wildlife photographer who currently lives in Maine. Juan lives and breathes photography and travels around the country making images, teaching and leading photo workshops. Juan’s favorite destination is Yellowstone in winter.

You can follow Juan on twitter at http://twitter.com/jpons

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3 Responses to “Wildlife Week: Connect”

  1. jose Says:


    Thanks for the tips. One thing I use in order to be able to extend low level positions is to use simple knee pads found at hardware stores. They make a difference when you have to be on your knees for a long period.

    Question: As you know in PR wildlife is mostly limited to birds. What would be your lens option if a telephoto is not an option due to budget? I am inclined to a 100-400IS.



  2. Juan Pons Says:


    Thanks for the tip. Those inexpensive knee pads are great for getting low and will save your knees!

    The 100-400 is a great all around lens. Unfortunately it won’t be as sharp as a prime lens, but you will be able to make some great images with it. I would also take a look at the Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM, it has gotten some great reviews and it’s about the same price as the 100-400.




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