Wildlife Photography – How To Become a Real wildlife photographer

Photographing wildlife is one of the most rapidly increasing professions/hobbies today. Not only it is challenging yet satisfying, but it is something that has many advantages along the ride. While some people keep it to just a hobby level, many wish to take it onto the next level. In this article, let’s dive deep into the world of wildlife photographers and all the shutterbugs alike.

Also Read – Incredible Guide To Wildlife Sciences, Courses, and Careers

What is wildlife photography?

Photographing wildlife, i.e., mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, even photographing flora in their natural habitat can be considered wildlife photography. It is a very niche genre of photography with a varied range of potential subjects.

How to pursue a career in wildlife photography

The world of wildlife might not be easily accessible to everyone. Hence, wildlife photographers play an important role in bringing this world to those people with the medium of high-quality pictures.

To reach as many people as possible, newspapers, magazines, social media groups, blogs, and other websites, are always in need of a reliable wildlife photographer. Most of these mediums pay you for providing wildlife images or undertaking projects for them.

One can also pursue a career as a tutor, mentor, or can create professional photography courses, tours, and workshops, provided you have thorough experience and expertise. 

How to become a wildlife photographer?

Most professional wildlife photographers, at their initial learning stage, start with understanding the fundamentals of photography as a general. However, playing with your camera, understanding its settings and the effect of every feature is something that is going to help you get acquainted with your camera.

That being said, most importantly understanding your subject, being patient, and just being outside for as much as you can, is extremely crucial for entering into the field of wildlife photography. Usually, photographing wildlife is challenging. Unlike portrait, product, or most of the other genres of photography, things are not in your control, the wildlife is just not going to cooperate with you or wait for you unless you have a better understanding of your subject.

Let’s just take an example; a Royal Bengal Tiger’. You want to capture the tiger walking head-on towards you. If you understand how a tiger behaves in the presence of you and your vehicle, it helps you better position yourself to get that perfect shot. Similarly, animals will not come out of the bushes instantly. So, you also need to be patient enough to wait and grab the window of opportunity when it arrives.

Wildlife photography jobs

Wildlife Journalism

Although for limited numbers, a lot of wildlife magazines have professional photographers on payroll, on a contract or on a fee structure basis. Other than the magazines, many wildlife-related online blogs require specific theme-based photographs for their articles. Some of these magazines are Sanctuary Asia, National Geographic, Hornbill, Wildlife & Adventure, Saveus, Outlook travel and many more.

Photography instructor

 After a certain period, one might have gained quite a lot of experience through years of learning and working. And with that comes the opportunity to teach other people how to become a budding photographer.
 India being extremely rich and diverse in wildlife, provides endless opportunities to learn/teach wildlife photography. Accompanying people to wildlife destinations and teaching them on field skills is a great experience and has tremendous value. Adding to that, it is one of the `dream jobs`. Mentoring people on their journey towards becoming a wildlife photographer is currently the best way to earn money if you love photographing wildlife.

Assistant wildlife photographer

 Many wildlife safari companies in India provide wildlife photography courses. One can join as an assistant to a head photographer in organizations like these.


 The best way to distribute your pictures and get paid for them is to go freelance. You may decide your own rate/fees or any other structure. Online places like Shutterstock, gettyimages, 500px, iStock, etc.

Wildlife photographer’s salary

A trainee photographer’s salary can be anywhere between 8,000 INR to 15,000 INR, depending on the venture they are associated with or the roles they play. A photographer with a sound knowledge of wildlife can earn even more.

Few notable wildlife photographers in India even earn between 100,000 INR to 300,000 INR.

Top Indian institutes for wildlife photography

While wildlife photography is a subject that needs to be perfected on your own, studying the fundamentals of it can be very fruitful. The colleges and institutes below provide courses, diplomas, workshops and classes for wildlife photography.

  1. Creative Hut
  2. MIT School of Photography
  3. Bharati Vidyapeeth’s School of Photography
  4. Symbiosis School of Photography
  5. National Institute of Photography
  6. Light and Life Academy

Top abroad institutes for wildlife photograph

There are few institutes abroad that offer photography courses during bachelor’s as well as master’s degrees. Here is the list of such top institutes.

  1. New York Institute of Photography
  2. Vevey School of Photography
  3. California Institute of Arts – Photography school

Top ideas to start wildlife photography for free

Not everybody would be privileged enough to invest in a DSLR or go out on a wildlife tour. But you need not spend money to start wildlife photography. You can start with just your smartphone or whatever equipment you have. Below are some tips and tricks if you are a rookie with limited resources.

  1. Your backyard is your best training grounds. The common birds, insects, or reptiles can be also found in the heart of bustling cities. These are your subjects available for free, with whom you can hone your skills at photography.
  2. Try using different settings and scenarios with the same subject. Looking at different framing elements will give you a better insight into picture composition.
  3. Wildlife photography is not just about photographing bigger mammals or beautiful birds, it is also about the macro world. So, venture out to your nearest garden, hill, or park. You will find a lot of wildlife around there as well. Bees, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, etc. There is more wildlife around you than you think.
  4. Join social media groups, online photography courses, or forums. These will introduce you to a vast ocean of time-tested knowledge and first-hand experiences with tips.
  5. And lastly, learn about the wildlife. This is really going to be very important as a beginner wildlife photographer.

How to earn as a freelance wildlife photographer

The best advantage of being a freelance wildlife photographer is the freedom of setting up your own rates. One can take up projects for multiple companies. Be it travel companies, bloggers, websites, magazines, kid’s magazines, or the newspapers.

Approaching such organizations and companies with your portfolio and finding the project that suits your expertise best is the key.

Top Wildlife Photography competitions and awards

While your e-storage is inevitably full of photographs from the wild, then why not enter your favorite shots into a competition? There are many wildlife photography competitions across the globe. Some of them are considered very prestigious to be successful in.

We have jotted down such world-wide esteemed wildlife photography competitions.

1.         Nature TTL Photographer of the Year

2.       Zoological Society London Animal Photography Prize

3.       Bird Photographer of the Year

4.       Underwater Photographer of the Year

5.       Sony World Photography Awards – Nature & Wildlife Category

Participating in such competitions help to create your brand in the market. Thus, win or not, competitions are important while it comes to wildlife photography and especially freelancing in this field.

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