How to photograph wildlife ethically this summer

Wildlife photography is a wonderful way to connect with nature, and can be done ethically and safely.
Photo by structuresxx / Getty Images

Getting into nature and capturing images of animals is a joy and can be a wonderful, educational experience. But we need to take steps to keep wildlife and ourselves safe

Capturing images of animals is a joy and often educational, but we need to take steps to keep them and ourselves safe. As the seasons roll into summer, here are a few tips that can help you get great photos while respecting the needs of animals.

1 Research the area. If you’re heading to an urban greenspace, a rural sideroad or a sprawling national park, knowing the lay of the land and what animals you may encounter can help you prepare not just for the best photographs, but for any additional outdoors equipment you may need to access and safely traverse the site.

2 Follow the local rules. Trail closures, road parking prohibitions, and other regulations are important and keep people and animals safe. They can also be important in protecting sensitive ecosystems that can be damaged quickly by the presence of people.

3 Know the animals’ behavioural cues. Being an ethical wildlife photographer means not affecting how animals behave while documenting them – and understanding the basics of their behavioural cues can be invaluable to achieve this. Researching the individual animals you expect to photograph is a great way to start.

4 Invest in equipment. If you’re serious about getting wildlife photos investing in the proper equipment to allow long-range shots or faster shutter speed can result in better photos without needing to get closer to animals.

5 Never feed wildlife. Baiting or leaving food of any kind can drastically affect the behaviour of animals. Whether it’s remote or urban, feeding wildlife leads to negative encounters, greater risk taking of individuals, and a disruption to the ecosystem.

6 Follow basic nature safety rules. No matter where you’re going, follow the basic principles of being in nature: leave nothing behind, let someone know where you’ll be, carry essential safety equipment, and be mindful of the weather and your surroundings.

Wildlife photography is an outstanding way to bring people closer to animals who we often only get to see from afar. Following these and other ethical considerations makes the photos even more meaningful for viewers – and the animals.

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