How to develop a good bond with a wild Leopard


Developing a bond with your photographic subject is essential for good photography and in wildlife photography that means developing a bond with the wild animals. It does not mean feeding wildlife or calling them or throwing something on them to get their attention. Bonding with wildlife goes through patience, trust and calmness.

Imagine being on a
photographic safari in Kruger Park in South Africa. The game drive is in an open 4x4 jeep and lets say you are lucky and the only person on the vehicle. Your tracker and ranger find a leopard, lying in high grass under a tree. First of all this is great and you take a couple of pictures. The leopard is not doing anything, just lying there and the visibility is not too great and you think lets go, it is anyway not so good and he is doing nothing. That would be the wrong thing to do. Get yourself a spot in the shade with your vehicle and wait. Snap around a bit, try different settings and relax. Take in the silence, the smell of the grass and keep an eye on the leopard. The more you relax and tune into the environment the more the leopard will feel comfortable with you around him. You will end up feeling when he stands up before you see it. This is essential, because you won’t hear a leopard standing up, you won’t hear anything when a cat moves, not even a leave cracking. The leopard is now doing his thing and your patience will be rewarded with great wildlife photography and maybe even spectacular wildlife interaction.
Enjoy the bonding and the great images it will give to you.

Happy wildlife snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for