Animal Portraiture

It's a been decades since I jetted round the world undertaking serious wild animal work back in the days of 35mm film on Fuji Velvia, but I do still occasionally try to keep my hand in "on safari" at local wildlife parks though it's all digital these days.

So it's more a case of wild life in their simulated natural habitat than what I used to do in the real wilderness, but it's still fun and photo safaris adds extra money to the parks' coffers that helps these days towards the preservation of many endangered specious.

Now conventional wisdom in photographing wild animals says you should do one of three things:

  1. Take an environmental shot of the animal/animals placing it/them firmly within the context of their habitat
  2. Take a behavioural shot illustrating something that typifies the animal's interaction with its environment and the things within it
  3. Animal portraiture.

With the latter there are then two golden rules;



  • do only a head and shoulders shot


  • do a shot of the complete animal, without cutting bits off or having bits of other animals intruding into the picture.

Well now, I take both of these "rules" more as a pair of guidelines. For example try including the shoulders of the giraffe in the picture above and see what you get!

However sometimes the guidelines are just fine and work well, as with the fluffster above.

Then there are the comedians; gorillas are so cool and very much poseurs.

Ah, bears, just look at that face; oh and the rules? Head and shoulders? Don't cut bits off? A bit of grey space to the left of the head? I just don't care. Look at that face.


Finally, make photographs that make you happy, never to please others, then be your own fiercest and most ruthless critic or you will never develop your own style.


A small set of pictures taken on "wildlife park safaris" illustrating animal portraiture may be found here.