Top 10 Tips - Wildlife Photography - Videography

Learn the simple important elements to consider when shooting wildlife photography and videography.
Top 10 Tips for Wildlife Photography and Videography - Utah
California Condor - Zion

1- Location: It's crucial to research and learn where wildlife are in greatest abundance, whether it's a particular national park, wildlife reserve, or even a specific habitat within those areas. Understanding the natural habitats and migration patterns of different species can significantly increase the chances of capturing compelling wildlife shots.

The following video shows the effort involved in getting wildlife photographs and video of elk wintering on the slopes of a Utah mountainside.

Wild HorseWild Horses

2- Time of Day: The golden hours of early morning and late evening provide optimal lighting conditions for capturing stunning photographs and videos. Many animals are more active during these periods, making it easier to observe and photograph them in their natural behaviors. During these times, the soft, warm light enhances colors and textures, while also casting long, dramatic shadows. 

Geese Utah - Goose

3- Cover: Utilizing camouflage clothing, creating a blind, or strategically positioning oneself behind natural obstructions such as trees, bushes, or large rocks can help minimize disturbances and increase the chances of getting close to wildlife without spooking them. This approach allows for more natural and intimate shots without causing undue stress to the animals.

Bighorn Sheep - ZionBighorn Sheep Utah

Note:  Trail cameras have made it possible to capture wildlife videos and photos in unique ways.  Always check local and state regulations for seasons and locations where trail cams are legal to use.

4- Wind Direction: Being mindful of wind direction is essential to avoid letting some types of wildlife catch your scent, as many animals have keen senses of smell that they rely on for survival. Position yourself upwind or crosswind from the subject to minimize the risk of detection and maintain a safe distance without causing alarm.


5- Sound: Wildlife have acute hearing, so maintaining silence is paramount when photographing or filming them. Even subtle noises like rustling clothing or the click of a camera shutter can startle animals and disrupt their natural behaviors. Practicing stealth and minimizing unnecessary movements can help ensure a quiet and undisturbed environment for capturing wildlife footage.


Note: Spotting scopes attached to a camera such as a smartphone or other photo or video equipment have enabled us all to get much closer to wildlife with less chance of disturbing them, or scaring them away. View this humorous video of blue herons nesting in an area that is near Utah's Great Salt Lake.

6- Movement: Any sudden or excessive movement can easily give away your presence and frighten off wildlife. Slow, deliberate movements are key to blending into the surroundings and minimizing disturbances. Patience is crucial when waiting for the perfect shot, as rushing or making abrupt movements can ruin hours of careful observation and preparation.

Dragonfly - Wildlife - Insect

7- Equipment: Using a long lens and shooting from a tripod or a steady platform can help stabilize your shots and capture sharper, more detailed images, especially when photographing distant or fast-moving subjects. Additionally, investing in high-quality optics and camera gear can make a significant difference in the overall quality of your wildlife footage.

Winter California Condor - Utah Photography

8- Weather: Wind, rain, snow, clouds, bright sunlight, low-light, and other weather conditions can impact your ability to capture a quality photograph or video of wildlife.  Use weather services to check for any of these weather elements where you intend to shoot. 

Buffalo Bison Henry Mountains

9- Seasonality: In winter, when leaves are not on many types of trees, it will be much easier to view and then capture photos or video of many types of birds, such as eagles, hawks, falcons.  Winter also can push larger wildlife down from high mountains to lower foothills and valleys.  Of course, cold temperatures can make wildlife photography and videography less comfortable.  Spring and fall bird migrations can provide opportunities for capturing large numbers of birds, and therefore having more opportunity to be selective with your photographs or video captures.

10- Wildlife Knowledge:  The more we can learn about wildlife behaviors, such as their eating and moving habits, the better opportunity we'll have in sucessfully capturing video of photo images of these animals, birds, and insects.

Mountain Goat - Utah

Final Notes:  Wildlife photography and wildlife videography is often more challenging than capturing a landscape scene. The factors mentioned above in our Top 10 Tips for wildlife photography and wildlife videography paint a clear picture on what may stand in the way of a successful photo effort.  Many wildlife photographers claim that part of their success is simply getting outside on a regular basis.  The more we make an attempt, the more likely we will be to capture some images or video clips that we hope for.   With wildlife photography and videography it is often a matter of being ready to capture what shows up on the spur of the moment.  At other times it is a matter of having a camera handy when an opportunity presents itself.    

Other short vertical video clips:

Bighorn Sheep - utahRed Tailed HawkWhite Pelican - Utah MigrationBighorn Sheep - Utah -RutDeer Mule Deer DoeGeese Utah - GooseBald Eagle - Utah - winter

Some of the animals and birds shown here are bald eagles, hawks, buffalo (bison), mule deer, bighorn sheep, blue herons, white pelicans, wild horses, elk, dragonfly, california condor, geese (goose), and videos include a rattlesnake, and more of elk, eagles, deer, buffalo, wild horse mustangs, california condors, and white pelicans.  View more Utah Wildlife info.

Photography and videography provided by Mark Wade - Wildlife - Utah Photogs   
* Unless otherwise specified.