Wildlife and Nature Photography Careers
Becoming a wildlife/nature photographer requires learning several different skill sets.
Passionate and dynamic individuals who enjoy photography and the outdoors are often drawn to a career in wildlife/nature photography. This field of photography is extremely competitive. Expect to devote a great deal of time and energy in order to master the basics.
Camera Equipment for Wildlife and Nature Photography
It is best to buy a few general lenses to start with and see what you need as your interests and skills progress. You may develop an interest in landscapes, wildilife, or nature closeups and then want to purchase more specialized lenses. Good choices to start with are a standard, 50 mm lens and a zoom lens.
Specialized Lenses for Wildlife and Nature Photography
Long lenses are essential for wildlife/nature photography. You will need long lenses to capture closeups of wildlife. Expect to invest in at least a 300 mm lens to start.
Macro lenses are used for closeups of insects, flowers, and vegetation. There are various types of macro lenses that differ in magnification. Discover how much magnification you wish to achieve and then purchase the best lens for your needs. A portable blind is also a good investment. Blinds allow you to photograph wildlife without being detected.
Education for Wildlife/Nature Photography
Consider education in a scientific field that brings you outside and closer to the subjects you wish to photograph. Various fields include but are not limited to:
• Wildlife Biology
• Marine Biology
Photographers who specialize in various scientific disciplines that bring them out of doors have an extreme competitive edge over arm chair naturalists or other types of outdoor enthusiasts. Not only do scientists have a greater understanding of the subjects they study compared to the average lay person, but they are also provided with a constant supply of wildlife and nature photo opportunities by being in the field on a daily basis.
A photography school is also an option for individuals interested in this field, but the best experience you can obtain in wildlife/nature photography is by trial and error and learning by experience.
Working Conditions for This Career in Photography
Expect extreme variability in working conditions for this field of photography. Wildlife/nature photographers travel to the freezing arctic and scorching desert in order to capture their subjects on film. Weather and other types of working conditions can change rapidly. The sun will appear from behind a cloud and ruin your perfect wildflower shot, or a bison will pick up your scent when the wind shifts and move out of camera range.
Wildlife/nature photographers not only must brave inclement weather conditions in order to obtain the perfect picture, but they also must possess Zen like patience and calm. It is not unusual to wait hours in order to capture wildlife in interesting and/or saleable poses or to be eaten alive by insects while getting shots of a rare orchid. Expect the unexpected. Photographers never know when nature will provide them with a great shot. It pays to have a few cameras ready mounted with various lenses to shoot that once in a lifetime photo.
Markets for Wildlife and Nature Photos
Books, magazines, newspapers, and greeting card/calendar markets all purchase wildlife/nature photography. Stock photography companies are also an outlet for selling wildlife and nature photos. Consider placing your photos with a small boutique agency to begin with instead of one of the big agencies like Getty, Jupiter, or Corbis.
Wildlife and nature photography is a very competitive field of photography that requires education in various disciplines. Learn as much as you can in order to become exceptional in this field.