Hunting

Improve your hunting photos with 8 essential tips from the professionals

We spoke to four photographers who shared their professional opinion on how to take the perfect hunting shot in a way that best captures the whole adventure and experience, respectfully.

1) Clean the animal

If you are photographing animals or birds that you have harvested, take the time to clean them up and make them look presentable. Blood soaked plumage and tongues hanging out make for an awful image. The pose is also crucial. Never sit on an animal or display a bird or animal in a choke hold that makes it look like it’s being tortured or disrespected.

2) Shoot from above

The world views the world at standing eye-level, therefore any image shot from standing eye-level will be uninteresting at best. Climb high and shoot down on a subject, or drop low and shoot up. Any subject is more compelling when viewed from an angle that we don’t often see.

Tosh Brown, Tosh Brown Photography (top image)

 

3) Use your flash

Don’t be afraid to turn on the flash, even if it’s sunny out. Most cameras these days will allow you to manually engage the flash and smarter cameras will read the ambient light (the light that’s around you) and adjust the flash according to how much light it thinks is needed for a proper exposure. This is often referred to as fill flash. Remember, this is a function that most cameras have, but you have to deliberately and manually engage the flash. Some units even allow you to turn the power of the flash up or down – check out your manual.

4) Practise with motion techniques

Use slower shutter speeds like 1/50th or 1/30th of a second to show motion. Often adding a little motion blur really brings your audience into the image. It evokes your other senses and helps make the story more real. Motion techniques include either holding the camera steady and allowing the subject to blur, or you can move the camera with the motion of the subject (called “panning”) which results in blurred background and hopefully a sharp subject. This technique requires some practice, but it’s fun, give it a try.

Tony Bynum, Tony Bynum Photography

Credit: Jonathan McGee

Credit: Tosh Brown

 5) Sensitivity is key

Bad photography is a public relations problem here in the UK and we don’t want to give people the wrong impression about shooting. Everyone who showcases fieldsports to the general public must understand that it’s an emotive pastime, so sensitivity is key. I’d never even think of showing blood in a photo, or injured birds.

6) Hold your gun correctly

Shooters handling their gun poorly is also a difficult subject. We all know shooting safety is paramount, yet mistakes do happen, but they should never be photographed. There’s a bit of public fear about guns in the UK and while this might be misguided, a picture of someone pointing their gun low is not the image I want the public to see. You have to really watch your angles for this, as a photograph taken at a poor angle can be deliberately misused.

Jonathan. M. McGee, Shooting Photography

 

7) Always take time to plan

I want to capture great motion shots of hunting on horseback so before I take the photos, I decide which of the obstacles might produce a nice image and make sure I am there in good time before the riders. This often requires a good deal of effort and fitness! I position myself on the landing side and if possible use the sun to light the subject.

8) Try and capture the ambience

It’s important to try and capture the mood, the atmosphere and the scenery, as well as the thrill of the hunt (if indeed there is one!)
This can be hard to achieve if the weather or setting doesn’t help. If this is the case try and focus on the atmosphere created by the steam rising of horses and hound or interesting light.

Nico Morgan, Nico Morgan Media

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