How to Approach Animals for Photos


Animal lovers are happy to see a cute dog, a horse in the field or a cat in the window and most likely walk over to the animal to pet it. Some animals run off, others accept it and others love it. Photographing an animal follows pretty much the same pattern as wanting to pet an animal. The photographer with the camera enters their comfort zone and wants something from the animal, a good photo. That happens often pretty rough, although the photographer is not conscious about that. Just a quick photo and further he/she goes. But the animals are often not happy with that intrusion, look away or walk away.

The same happens on game drives on
photographic safaris, team building photo safaris and wildlife photography courses. For example one day a game vehicle drove past a hyena, lying in a little puddle, enjoying the cooling water. The hyena was looking towards the road when the vehicle came, but the moment the vehicle stopped and the cameras popped out it turned away, looking in the opposite direction, very much frustrating the photographers on the vehicle. Now they started calling the hyena, trying to make her turning towards the camera, but the animal wouldn’t do that. The more the people pushed the more they drove the animal away from them. Never push an animal, it will not do what you want and if it gets too much, it will just walk off.

If you want to photograph animals and get great photos, take time and be with them. In the case of the game vehicle, just stand there and wait, make yourself comfortable and get the rush out of yourself to. After a while the animal will get used to you and feel comfortable doing its own thing. This is the moment when you get the best images. They will be images of a relaxed animal doing animal things and maybe you can even witness great animal interactions. Just don’t push them.

The same applies actually also to people. Try to push children to pose like you want and the crying will start.

Happy snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for