Bring Wildlife Photos to Life with 5 Powerful Tips

Photographing animals can be a lot like making outdoor portraits of people. Many of the same composition and lighting principles apply, as do techniques for crafting an image that conveys feelings and moods.

In the quick video below from B&H Photo Video, an internationally acclaimed photographer demonstrates five powerful tips for capturing the emotion of a subject. Nikon Ambassador Kristi Odom is a Colorado-based wildlife pro, and in barely five minutes she explains her secrets for bringing wildlife images to life.

Odom says, “My mission has always been to connect people emotionally to wildlife, and to show that animals have personality and characters.” By following her advice you too can make images that don’t objectify animals, thereby enabling the viewers to establish a deeper connection with the subjects.

Whenever possible, Odom researches animals in advance, especially with species she hasn’t photographed before. “The more you can earn about your subjects before going out to photograph,” she explains, “the deeper understanding you can give to viewers.” And knowing what what behavior to expect can be extremely helpful during a shoot.

Another trick is to juxtapose the mood of an animal against a background the tells a different story, like in her shot of a calm and placid bear standing amidst a chaotic scene of rushing water. Here she explains the exposure settings used to emphasize the dichotomy.

Before making an image Odom also considers how she wants the viewer to react to the photo, and she explains how to project the feelings you desire while capturing the photograph. Her other tips are equally helpful and interesting, and they will make you a better wildlife photographer.

Odom provides equipment and exposure details in captions on her images, and there’s a list of the gear she uses in the description beneath the video. You can view more amazing imagery on her website, and find other helpful tips on the B&H Photo Video YouTube channel.