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What You Need to Prepare for Your Next Wildlife Photoshoot

You want to be a wildlife photographer. You dream of hiking miles into the Amazon rainforest to track tigers. You fantasize about crossing the Sahara desert in search of camels. You want to find the most beautiful animals in nature and capture them in a photograph. The success or failure of a wildlife photoshoot depends largely upon proper preparation. You need to plan where you are going, the gear you are taking, and what happens when things go wrong.

So what do you actually need to prepare for your next wildlife photoshoot?

The Tools to Help You Navigate
In order to photograph animals, you need to go where they are. This is an obvious statement, but stands true nonetheless. Without the ability to navigate to where the animals actually are, you are not going to be successful in your photoshoot. You need a broad idea of where the animals are: a park, a nature preserve, a coral reef, or wherever. Then, you need to be able to navigate within those areas successfully.

In the past, wildlife photographers were forced to use paper maps and compasses to navigate. This was painstakingly slow and sometimes inaccurate. Luckily, today there are many technological solutions. To prepare for your wildlife photoshoot, you should invest in GPS-enabled gear to help you navigate during your search. There are a variety of devices you can choose from: ranging from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars in cost. You will need to evaluate what you need the technology to do to make your purchasing decision.

The Right Clothes for the Climate
On your wildlife photoshoot, you will be outside in the environment and exposed to the weather. Depending on where you are, this could be rain, snow, heat, cold, or anything in between. You need to be prepared for long hours or even days being exposed to these elements. Generally speaking, you want clothes that are lightweight and easy to carry. You also likely want clothes that dry quickly, so they do not stay damp and useless. The proper clothes are essential to a successful wildlife photoshoot. If you are not prepared to face the elements, then your situation can quickly deteriorate. At best, you could just be uncomfortable. At worst, you could be facing a survival situation.

Reliable Camping Gear and Accessories
Similar to clothing, it is vital that you bring reliable camping gear and accessories with you on your wildlife photoshoot. Many times in wildlife photography, it is necessary to spend days or even weeks out in the environment. Unfortunately, many wildlife photographers try to budget and buy cheap camping gear. It’s a mistake to try to cut corners with camping gear. You need a tent that can withstand rain if you will be in the rain. You need a sleeping bag that is heavily insulated if you will be in the cold. You need a backpack that can hold all of the gear you need without breaking.

Background Knowledge of Your Target Animals
It is likely that you will be targeting one or two species on your wildlife photoshoot. In order to maximize the likelihood of finding these animals, you need to have extensive background knowledge about them. This includes their behaviors, their feeding habits, and their geographical range. You need to invest time in educating yourself about your target animals. You should invest in guidebooks and watch documentaries. You may even think about taking an online college course in wildlife ecology.

The Best Camera for the Job
As a wildlife photographer, you are only as good as the photos you take. Accordingly, the most important tool that you carry with you is your camera. The operation and quality of your camera is essential to the success of your wildlife photoshoot. Just like any kind of technology, cameras vary in use, quality, and cost. You can spend anywhere from a hundred dollars to ten thousand dollars on a single camera. You need to know what your budget is for this piece of equipment. You need to ask yourself a few questions when your evaluating which camera to purchase and bring with you. What environmental elements will you be encountering? How far away will the animals be when you photograph them? Are you trying to be a professional wildlife photographer or is this simply an amateur hobby?

A Plan if Things Go Wrong
Murphy’s Law tells us simply that: “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. This is especially true in wildlife photography. As a wildlife photographer, you will be out in nature and the environment. When you are exposed like this, things can go wrong very quickly. It’s impossible to anticipate the future, but you can try to mitigate your risk. Have an emergency contact who knows your plans and where you will be. Have emergency food rations with you in case you become lost or stranded. Have insurance policies in place to protect you in case something unforeseen occurs.

Life insurance can be intimidating to evaluate, but you should consider it before your photoshoot. According to the experts at, you should shop multiple plans that cover the unique set of risks you face. Knowing that your family is cared for can provide peace of mind as you explore the natural world.

A Love of Wildlife
Above everything, you will need a love of wildlife to be prepared for your next wildlife photoshoot. You can spend thousands of dollars on the best equipment possible. You can plan your trip extensively and expensively. However if you do not have a love of wildlife, then ultimately your next wildlife photoshoot will be unsuccessful. It takes love to deal with the rain, wind, heat or cold for days at a time. It takes love to hike or paddle miles out into the wilderness. It takes love of wildlife to do all of these things with no guarantees of seeing the animals you seek at all.

A wildlife photoshoot can be a very fun and rewarding adventure when done successfully. You need to plan and prepare properly for this to happen though. Use this article to help guide you to the experience and the wildlife photographs that you are seeking.

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