Hunting season is in full swing for most and over for some. Now we are all sharing stories of our harvests. This includes pictures; many on our mobile devices, social networks and, if we’re lucky, in magazines and other publications. As I look at some of the pictures, I am reminded to take note of how to get great photos of our harvests. It is important to show our respect for the magnificent animals as well as obtain beautiful memories of our time in the field to share with others. We need to make sure they are the best possible images. Here are just a few of the tips I have been given over the years, and I am happy to share them with you.
It is always best to photograph your trophy in the area where you find it. Make the photo look as natural as possible. It does not do the animal justice to take a photo of it in the back of your pick up, on your 4-wheeler or worse yet, hanging from your hoist. Photographs look much better if you have trees or shrubs in the background.
Prepare the animal so it looks as natural as possible. Be sure to clean the animal of any blood. Pet the animal’s fur in the proper direction. Put the tongue in its mouth and clear the lips and nostrils of any blood. Remember to check periodically and make sure no additional blood has appeared. Some photographers carry thin line to hold the mouth closed if necessary.
In order to have your animal look full bodied and healthy, push it forward on its body. Fold its legs under its chest. This will give the body a healthy appearance. Sit beside or behind the animal. Never sit on the animal. Depending on the size of your harvest, you may need to use your pack, large rocks or shooting sticks to brace its weight and prop it up. Hold on to the animal’s antlers only to obtain a natural head position. Do not use its antlers to rest your bow or gun. Bows and guns can be held in your free hand or laid at an angle across the animal’s body.
Take your photos up close with a flash to optimize light. This will eliminate some of the shadows caused by a hat on a bright sunny day. Pay attention to hats and sunglasses. Remove sunglasses and tilt ball caps up so your eyes can be seen in the photo. If the animal has antlers, turn the animal’s head at an angle to see the depth and confirmation of the antlers. Pay attention to shadows caused by antlers that can appear across your face. On another note, if you have sponsors, make sure their logo is still visible in the photograph.
Always take numerous pictures. The more photos you take at different angles, the better chance you have of getting one that doesn’t have a flaw such as a shadow across your chin or other accidental detractor. You will also need a separate photograph for each article you write. Cover your bases and take lots. Remember the basics and let us see those fantastic photographs.