5 Common Bird Photography MISTAKES & How to Avoid Them (VIDEO)

If you’re new to bird photography or dissatisfied with the images you’ve made in the past, this quick tutorial is for you. In just about nine minutes you’ll learn how to avoid five common mistakes that most beginners make.

North Carolina-based photographer Sean Leahy had a major life event a decade ago that turned his world upside down. In an attempt give purpose to his life he decided to take up bird photography, and he’s been shooting gorgeous images ever since. 

Leahy is also a good instructor and, like all of us, he made plenty of mistakes when first starting out. And that’s what this episode is all about, as you’ll accelerate your learning curve and gain insight in the dos and don’ts of photographing our feathered friends.

The biggest mistake Leahy made as a novice was rushing, and not taking time to examine his surroundings before beginning to shoot. Now as he hikes through the field toward a destination, he stops whenever he hears a bird sing. Then he pulls out his binoculars rather than hurrying to where he intended to shoot. “The bird of lifetime,” he explains, “might be right next to the parking lot.”

Moving on to shooing tips, Leahy explains why he sometimes ignores the conventional wisdom of always focusing on the eyes of a bird. Instead, he takes several shots of his subject, each with a different point of focus. And while you’ve no doubt heard this before, Leahy stresses the importance of always using a tripod—even on the brightest of days.

Leahy also discusses key camera settings, the necessity of paying attention to shadows, composition, and why you shouldn’t pass by a bird just because it’s a common species where you live.

There are many more bird photography tutorials on Leahy’s YouTube channel, where you can also find examples of his stunning imagery.