9 Simple Tips for Improving Your Hunting Photography Skills
Bill Miller 03.02.15
Soon we’ll be back in the field with our shotguns on our shoulders. Snow goose hunters really get after it beginning in March. Southern turkey hunters begin hunting just after the official declaration of spring.
While the external “goal” of hunting is always to put a bend in the meat pole, the true pursuit is the collection of memories: good ones, funny ones, inspiring ones. Every hunting trip, even every scouting trip, produces memories you’ll want to keep. Photographs, films, and, most recently, unfathomably-easy-to-shoot-and-store-video make those memories last longer and stay fresher. They always have.
So why is it so many return from hunting outings with few photos and many of them images not even a mother could recognize? In this day and age, there’s no excuse for not taking lots of pictures—it’s basically free! And the cameras do just about everything for you, so there should be no reason for poor quality pictures, either. The quality of camera in your average smartphone these days is more than capable of capturing images that could create a full-size, two-page magazine spread and video that is high-definition broadcast quality.
Here are some basic tips for hunting photography and videography that will produce images you’ll be proud to share anywhere.
Take your camera (aka your phone) with you everywhere go—even trips to the outhouse. You never know when or where the opportunity for a great, memorable picture is going to come up. You can’t capture it if you don’t have your camera with you.
2. Keep your lens clean
Use a soft cloth (the new microfiber clothes work best) to frequently remove debris and moisture from the lens. Especially with the tiny lenses on phone cameras, a single raindrop or big snowflake can blur an entire picture.
3. Know your focus
When you’re using a camera in “full auto” mode, it picks out the point in the image it “thinks” you want to focus on. It may or may not guess correctly. Learn how to focus on the subject, reframe the shot, then take the picture.
4. Shoot big
Whenever you’re in doubt, allow plenty of space around the outside of whatever you’re shooting. This gives you plenty of room to work when you load the photos into your computer back home so you can create the perfect image. You can’t work with what’s not there!
5. Shoot everything
Take pictures of “everything,” not just the infamous grip and grin shots once you’ve taken game. Think outside the box. Inevitably, the pictures that will bring back the best, most fun memories are the ones you never knew you would take.
Take photos with the light at your back, shining on to your subject. If anyone in the shot is wearing a ball cap, make them tip the caps back so the light fills their face—not with the brim creating shadow to hide the eyes.
7. Prep the game
When you are taking grip and grin shots, do so respectfully to the game and to those who will view your photos in the future. Minimize blood. No gut piles. Don’t sit on the animal like the conquering hero. Take the photos in the field, in the environment in which the animal was taken—not hanging in the garage or lying in the bed of a pickup. Exhibit firearms safety in the shot.
8. Get low
Try to shoot hero shots from as low as possible. This really makes game look bigger. If you can position the animal and subject on an embankment and shoot from below, that’s terrific. However, just getting down on your belly and shooting from as close to ground level as possible will produce great results.
9. Smile, smile, smile
Many of us hunt and fish because we enjoy it. If it’s not fun, we shouldn’t be there. There’s nothing sissy about smiling. You’re having fun—show it!
One photograph that should be taken on every hunting trip is all the gear you’re taking, laid out before you leave home, including your ThermaCELL of course! These shots, stored in your phone, will be a visual checklist when you pack up to head home and as you’re planning for future trips. These shots allow you to adjust your packing based on what you didn’t need on the last trip, or what you wish you would have had with you that you didn’t. Plus it’s just fun to compare the progression and changes to your hunting gear through the seasons!
These insights brought to you by Federal Premium Ammunition, ThermaCELL, Camp Chef, and the Quebec Outfitters Federation.