Wildlife Photography

Wildlife Photography Tips and Ethics
Wildlife Photographer

Wildlife Photography Tips

  • Be patient. Great wildlife shots take time.  Find a place to sit and wait and the wildlife may come to you.
  • Do some research.  If you understand the animal, plant or object you are trying to photograph it will be easier to find and photograph without disturbing its natural behavior.
  • Camouflage yourself. If you don't stick out like a sore thumb animals will be more relaxed.
  • Watch what is in your background. Distracting backgrounds can cause your subject to get lost in the photo.
  • Figure out the best lighting.  Don’t take photos into the sun unless you are hoping for a silhouette. The hours just after dawn and before dusk tend to offer photographers the best lighting. 
  • Invest in a telephoto lens.
  • Problems focusing? If your automatic focus isn’t working for you switch over to manual focus.
  • Take a lot of photos.  If you have a continuous shooting option on your camera, use it.
  • Composition of your photograph is important.  When photographing an animal remember the rule of thirds.  If an animal is facing a certain way give them a little room on the head end so it does not look like they are walking or flying off of the photo.


  • Be sure to give wildlife space. Approaching an animal to closely may stress or threaten them. If you notice the animal becoming uncomfortable back away.
  • Do not put yourself between a parent and its young and don’t encroach on nests or dens.
  • Don’t interfere with an animal’s natural behavior. Just observe. This behavior is what makes wildlife photography so much fun!
  • Don’t harass, make noises, or pursue an animal. This wastes its energy and interrupts its resting and feeding behaviors. 
  • Don’t feed or bait wildlife.  When animals become habituated they lose their fear of humans which can result in injury to people or the animal having to be put down.  When many animals feed at the same site it can spread diseases among them.
  • Leave what you find.  Don’t remove anything from the refuge.  You may think that rock or flower is beautiful but leave it where you find it so someone else can enjoy it too.  It is against the law to remove natural items from the refuge.
  • Leave no trace.  If you bring something into the woods take it out with you as well.
  • Clean your shoes and equipment when you leave one site and move to another.  Seeds can stick in cracks or in mud that you may have picked up at one site and be transported to another.  It is important to remove these seed sources so you don’t accidently spread exotic or invasive species. This will help keep ecosystems pristine.

Facts About Wildlife Photography

Wildlife Photography Statistics

Last year nearly 20,000 visitors participated in wildlife photography at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. 

Visitor Contributions

Many visitors enter photos into the annual Amateur Photo Contest.  These photos - like the one above taken by Barbara Hysell - are often used in refuge brochures, on signs and on our website. 

Photo Contest

In 2012, 49 photographers entered 161 photos into the contest.  Winners received ribbons and a prize from the Seney Natural History Association.