If you’re passionate about photography and wildlife, becoming a nature photographer could be the perfect artistic career for you! But how do you get started in the field? What skills do you need to have? Here’s what you should know about what makes a great nature photographer.
What is nature photography?
Nature photography is focused on capturing the natural world around us, from shots of wild animals to detailed photos of the ice that collects on a tree branch after a winter storm. Like other forms of photography, nature photographers use a variety of methods and equipment to take compelling photos that show the viewer the beauty or chaos of nature, the weather, flora, and fauna.
What does a nature photographer do?
Nature photographers use their skills to create breathtaking images focused on scenery, plants, and animals. Most often, if nature photography is more than a hobby for you, you’ll want to pursue job and freelance opportunities with newspapers and magazines like the National Geographic. Depending on the kind of work you do, your regular tasks could include things like
- Researching locations for photoshoots
- Researching and studying the behaviors of animals
- Traveling to different states or countries for the right photos
- Determining what equipment you need to bring with you
- Editing your photos
Tips for taking great nature photographs
Becoming a nature photographer requires a few different specialized skills outside of an understanding of how to take a great photo. Nature photographers need to
- Be patient. Unlike photographing people or cityscapes, you won’t be able to control the environment around you as a nature photographer. To be successful, you need to be patient and able to wait for the right shot. That could mean spending the entire day in one spot, in good and bad weather, waiting for an animal to make an appearance. Even then, it’s not guaranteed you’ll be able to take a great shot, so you may find yourself back in the same spot for several days in order to capture the image you want.
- Understand natural light. Nature photography requires you to have a strong understanding of natural light, the kind of light you can expect during certain types of weather or hours of the day, and how to make the best use of it for the shot you want. Since natural light can be inconsistent, it can take experience and time to really understand how best to use it to your advantage.
- Be willing to find opportunities. You won’t always get lucky in nature photography. You need to be willing to find and create your own opportunities to get the best shots.
- Do their research. Nature photography requires research ahead of taking photos. You’ll need to research different locations and climates, what types of animals or landscapes are found in different geographical areas, and the best times to capture the photos you want.
- Know the appropriate lenses and gear they need. While nature photographers often use much of the same equipment as other photographers, there are some specialized lenses and tools you’ll want to be familiar with in order to get the shots you want. These could include wide-focus lenses, telephoto-zoom, and a remote shutter release.
How to become a nature photographer
To start a career as a nature photographer, you need training and dedication. A formal education in photography school can help you build the skills to create compelling photos, as well as learn more about the right equipment to use for the job.
You’ll also want to build a portfolio. A portfolio will be an important part of showing off your work to potential employers. In order to find paying jobs in the field, you may have to send your portfolio, along with query letters, to magazines or newspapers you’re hoping to sell your work to.
Before sending out your portfolio, make sure to research the publications you’re sending it to to make sure your photo style and subject matter matches what the magazine publishes.
Learn nature photography online at NYIP
If you want to focus your creative skills on capturing the natural world around you, learning the right techniques and equipment to do so can help you prepare to stand out as a nature photographer. In an online nature photography course like that offered by the New York Institute of Photography, you’ll learn about composition, exposure, and framing, how to properly use natural light, and how to develop a portfolio of your work. To develop new photography skills and sharpen the ones you already have, reach out to our Admissions Department at NYIP at 1-800-583-1736 to learn more about starting your training as a nature photographer today!