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Guide to Animal Photography: Knowing the Techniques to Take Pictures You’ll Love

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/20/2015

Taking photos of animals can be a challenge; taking impressive photos of animals can be next to impossible. Be it a family pet or a wild animal, this article will teach you a number of techniques that will help you capture your fine feathered or furry friends in all their glory.

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    Patience Is a Virtue

    Taking photographs of people can be easy in the sense that they can follow directions. You can teach a dog to sit, a cat to use the Cat by Paparutzi little box or a parrot to speak, but telling a critter, “Hey you, I’d like it if you could please go stand over by that shed, stand on two paws, smile and say cheese" isn’t going to result in much more than an inquisitive tilt of the head and maybe a questionable whine – and that’s if you’re lucky. Photographing animals requires patience and time, especially if you are aiming for a particular situation and result. If patience or time isn’t something you have in excess (or even if it is), consider natural and/or candid shots.

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    Animal Personality Test

    Wildlife photography tips 

    Capturing a critter’s personality will deliver great results and defer from dreary and uninspiring photos. If you know your critter’s personality beforehand, you’re one step ahead. Just like humans, animals have daily routines. If you want a photo of your cat playing, it’s best not to try capturing that when they’re in the middle of one of their daily naps. Same rule applies with wildlife and even animals in the zoo.

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    Simple Animal Photography Tips

    If an animal is nocturnal, chances are you won’t get a photo of them hunting for their dinner at one o’clock in the afternoon. Another Pictures of animals technique to capturing your animal’s personality is to not get their attention.

    If they aren’t distracted, they’re more likely to continue being themselves. So, calling their name or making their call noise – quack-quack – to get them to look over at you will result in nothing more than another dull snapshot.

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    Fill Your Frame

    Owl by Hamed Saber Taking photos where your subject fills the frame will have a positive effect. This technique will show great detail and eliminate background distractions. The photo will become more personal. Sometimes we are unable to get up close to our subject because it could scare them away, distract them from their natural activities or in some cases, attract them to us (not such a good thing if the subject is a bear or cougar!). In this case, the best option is to use your camera’s zoom or change lenses.

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    Shoot at Eye Level

    The eye is the window to our soul". Shooting at eye level will create a more intimate photograph. With animals, it might not always be possible to achieve this, but it’s always a good technique to keep in mind for when you can.

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    Practice, Practice, Practice!

    Taking plenty of photos will increase your chance of success. Considering other composition techniques will also help, such as the Rule of Thirds or working with different angles.

    What does taking photos of babies and photographing animals have in common? A lot of the photography techniques are similar. Several tips in this article on taking baby photos can also apply to animal photography.

    Keep practicing and before you know it, you’ll have impressive photos that others might consider worthy of National Geographic.

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    Animal picturesPhotography tips & tricksTake better picturesPet photography tips
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    From top right photo of cat, then the owl, and immediately above left to right, photos by: paparutzi, artct45, Hamed Saber, mape_s, s-a-m, ucumari, jimbowen0306, and paparutzi.