How To Become A Wildlife Photographer (And Make Money)

Last Updated on February 3, 2023

If you’re a nature lover and want to make your hobby into a career, it’s time to step up your game. Here are the steps that need to be taken in order for you to become a professional wildlife photographer.

Find the perfect location (or locations) suitable for photography. Research local regulations. Decide on a camera type and size. Learn about natural light and how to make the most of it. Shoot more than once. Learn to process your images well. Build a website and social media profile.

If you can follow these steps, you’re on your way to becoming a professional wildlife photographer.

Best Wildlife Photography Locations

moose in field

For a wildlife photographer, the best place to start is by finding a location. There are many places around the world which are perfect for taking pictures of cute, fun animals. Here are some of the best places to take photos:

  1. National Parks

National parks are public lands protected by the government. These are great places because they offer a variety of landscapes that you can use to your advantage.

The scenery in these parks is also so gorgeous that the pictures will come out perfectly without having to do a lot of editing. If you want your photographs to come out natural and beautiful, look no further than the national parks in your area.

  1. Private Lands

Most professional photographers avoid taking pictures of animals on private property, especially if they don’t have the owner’s permission.

However, if the photographer has a good reputation for not invading privacy and taking shots that do not cause harm to the wildlife, and also receives permission from the owner to take photos on their land.

  1. Caves and Tunnels

According to National Geographic magazine, there are over 3 million caves in the United States alone.

If you’re a nature photographer, there is a very high chance that you are familiar with caves already. Millions of wildlife species use caves as their homes and hiding places.

It’s not easy to get close to them, but professional wildlife photographers are skilled at getting the job done. If you can learn how to get the shots around them in the cave, your photos will come out beautiful.

  1. Farms

Farms are great places to photograph wildlife because animals are often drawn to the crops being raised. I’ve found farms to be great locations for a number of species including deer, ducks, and geese.

Animals located near farms are often more accustomed to a human presence making it easier to get close for great shots.

  1. National or State Parks in other Countries

For those looking to travel the world while still acting as a wildlife photographer, national or state parks in other countries are a great option.

These parks are in places like Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar. These countries are known for having the best flora and fauna on the planet. If you want to be a professional wildlife photographer, why not go visit these places?

What Camera to Use For Wildlife Photography

eagle with mountain in background

A wildlife photographer needs a large-zoom camera that can capture clear images of the animals in their natural habitat.

There are many different camera types you can use, it all depends on your preference and what kind of pictures you want to take. Here are some great options to think about:

  1. Compact System Cameras (CSC)

These cameras have interchangeable lenses and a portable design that makes them ideal for traveling with. CSCs are great for wildlife photography because they can take amazing photos without being too big or difficult to carry around. CSPs can be found on the market for a reasonable price, and have lenses that allow them to zoom in up to 10x while still remaining small.

  1. DSLR Cameras

These cameras are good for wildlife photography because they have interchangeable lenses that allow you to get really close to the animal and get a shot of them at their face. These cameras are also very simple to use and comes with a variety of features that can be used to improve photos. DSLRs are very popular among professional photographers, so if you have the money, they are a great investment.

  1. Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless cameras are smaller and more compact than DSLRs, which makes them perfect for traveling. They also have interchangeable lenses that allow you to do close-up animal photography without having to worry about getting in their personal space.

  1. Mirrorless Cameras with APS-C Sensors

These cameras are the same as mirrorless cameras, but have APS-C sensors instead of full-frame sensors. Because of this, they are a good choice if you want to do close-up wildlife photography without having to change lenses every time.

  1. Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Point-and-shoot cameras are great for on the go because of their compact size, small weight and the ability to take good pictures quickly. However, they aren’t meant for professional photography because they have a hard time fitting into a nature photographer’s needs. If you’re looking to take pictures at night or take wildlife photographs during low light times of day, point-and-shoot cameras are not ideal.

How to use natural light for wildlife photography

sea lion on beach

Nature photography is best done before the sun rises or after it sets.

Most animals are more active during these times, and they tend to be in their natural environment during these hours. If you live in a place that has a lot of wildlife, take advantage of the time when they’re most active and try to capture them in natural light.

If you don’t have access to natural light, there are other options. You can still get decent photos with flashlights and lamps if needed. But if you’re looking to take great photos, you should take advantage of natural light whenever it’s available.

How to Take Wildlife Photos in the Field

herd of elephants in river

The most important thing you can do when taking wildlife pictures in the field is to use a tripod for your camera. This allows you to capture clear photos that won’t be blurry because of movement. Here are some helpful tips on how to get great wildlife shots.

  1. Know your equipment

Before you go on a trip to a new location, it’s a good idea to know the right equipment you’ll need for taking photos of wildlife. You need to make sure you have the right kind of camera, lenses and other accessories that will fit your needs for taking good photos in the field. You should also bring along plenty of memory cards so you can carry along more than one photo so you don’t run out while on the trip.

  1. Know your shooting angles

You’ll want to take note of any areas where animals are likely to be found and try to find the best angles for getting a good photo of them. You’ll want to try different positions and find out which one gives you the best shot. For example, you might have an angle where you can get a shot of an animal in mid-jump while another position might give you a better shot of its face and front paws.

  1. Know your camera

There are different types of cameras that you can use to take wildlife photos in the field. If you’re just getting started, you should start with a basic digital point-and-shoot camera. Then if you develop a gift for photography, move up to advanced compact cameras or DSLRs that are loaded with features.

  1. Try different settings and locations

You’ll want to try out different settings and locations to find the best shots. You can do this by shooting in different parts of the field at the same time or just using different locations for each shot. If you’re taking photos of a variety of wildlife, try a few different ones and compare them to see which one gives you the best shot.

  1. Patience is key

Sometimes you’ll be able to get some great shots right off the bat while other times it’ll take several attempts before you get a great photo. This could mean you have to wait for the right moment or wait for animals to move into the right position. It doesn’t matter how long you take, just wait until the perfect shot shows up.

  1. Don’t try to get too close

When trying to take photos of wildlife, it’s best not to go too close to them. Babies and young animals might be more likely to run away from you if you get too close, and some animals are just wild and unpredictable.

How to Make Money as a Wildlife Photographer

flamingos flying at sunset

As a wildlife photographer with years of experience, I have been fortunate to earn enough money to pay for my family’s education and provide sufficient funds for my work as a wildlife photographer. So why do people ask me how to make money as a wildlife photographer? That’s not all I do. In the spirit of self-education, I’ve decided to share with you the “insider tips” that I’ve learned over the years about how to make money as a wildlife photographer.

Many people ask me “How to make money as a wildlife photographer?” The truth is, there are too many variables involved to make any kind of formula work that would guarantee money. One of the issues is that people tend to ask how you can do something, when the real question should be “How do I get a business to value my work?”

The idea of a “wildlife photographer” is pretty straight forward. You take pictures of animals in their natural habitat. However as soon as an item has the word “business” in front of it, things become uncertain. You need to have a business that is valuable enough to produce income, but you also have to have enough money to survive until the business becomes profitable.

What’s even worse is that there are so many people willing to give advice that you don’t know when someone is giving you bad advice. One of the most common pieces of bad advice I’ve heard over and over again is “just buy an expensive camera and your wildlife photos will sell themselves.”

This is wrong, not because it’s not a good camera, but because it’s an expensive camera. You can’t take photos without a camera. However how much your photos are worth depends on many other factors including the quality and quantity of your work, your passion for wildlife photography, and the marketing you do. Your ability to reach out to end customers may depend on whether or not you have a gallery that will showcase your work.

How to sell wildlife photography prints without a gallery?

You can still run your own online store and sell prints, but since you’re unknown in the world of wildlife photography, it’s unlikely that you’ll have much business. If you can find a gallery that will showcase your work for an affordable price, then your work has a much better chance at finding an audience. Otherwise if you’re unknown then you’re going to have to do some marketing for yourself in order to attract buyers.

How to market wildlife photography prints?

Marketing is a difficult subject, which involves spending money on advertising. In addition to buying ads, you need to have a compelling product that people are going to want. In the case of wildlife photography, there are plenty of people that want to take photos of animals in their natural habitat. Which means that you have a highly competitive market where everyone is selling similar products at similar prices. However marketing is still important in a time when more and more people are becoming aware of themselves as brands.

What do I mean by branding?

I mean that you need to have your own brand identity. A brand identity is the essence of your photography business, it’s a perception of what your business is about, who you are as a person or company, and how you’re different from other photographers.