Paul Joynson-Hicks has been a professional photographer in East Africa for over 20 years and has a deep love for the African bush. Shooting wildlife and landscapes is his passion and teaching others to do the same is the natural progression and keeps him in the bush and sharing his love of the environment and capturing it on ‘film’, as it were! Here are his top 5 tips for shooting wildlife.
ONE - Always be ready. You never know when something is going to jump out / chase / kill / eat /pose always make sure batteries charged and plenty of images left on your cards.
TWO – Know your stuff. If you don’t know where you are or where you are going or what you are going to see, forget it. Know what animals you are likely to see where and when and you are much more likely to get that incredible shot we are always after (or ask Tim or I!).
THREE – Be patient. I know, I know, its tedious and clichéd, but actually I am not talking about spending a month in a hide for that one amazing shot, because we don’t all have that luxury, I am saying; if you find some cheetah and they are looking a bit itchy and on the horizon are some Thompson’s gazelles, stick around in an hour or two you may well be rewarded with a hunt. You may not, but at least you wont come back to camp and find those people in the next tent saw them kill!
FOUR – Lenses and bodies. We don’t all have Nat Geo budgets, but you can hire lenses and bodies these days quite cheaply, so if you have a trip coming up make sure you are well enough equipped. In any situation the needs can change in nano-seconds. Make sure you have good zoom lenses, fixed lenses and if you can at least two bodies, so you aren’t perpetually changing lenses and getting dust on the sensor.
FIVE – Composition. This is Tip no 5 because you have to get yourself into this position to be able to actually get the shot. Composition is the key, remember to try and get the shot from differing angles. If you are shooting wildlife you are more than likely to be in a car, if not YIKES run like mad, actually don’t, that’s bad…anyway I digress, shoot from the roof hatch or the top of the car, shoot from the window. Vary the lens choice, put the animal in space, don’t always get as close as possible, focus on the eyes, but don’t always necessarily put them bang in the middle.
SIX – BONUS TIP – ENJOY, HAVE FUN AND APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT YOU ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE SEEING SOMETHING SPECIAL!