10 wildlife photography tips for beginners

10 wildlife photography tips for beginners

Oak aphid eggs credit Ella Cox

Keeping it Wild Project Trainee Ella wowed us with her wildlife photography during her Traineeship. Here are her 10 top tips for taking photos of wildlife.

1. Plan your trip

There's nothing worse than going out for the day, ready to capture some great images, then realising your battery isn't charged or you have no memory on your SD card (I'm very guilty of this)! Check the weather and make sure any areas you’re planning to visit are open that day.

2. Don’t be afraid to use your phone 

Make the most of the lightweight, multipurpose camera in your pocket. Downloadable camera apps and clip on lenses give you the scope to experiment with the images you take and take on easy post-photo editing. You can even use a pair of binoculars as a zoom lens!

Slug eggs

Credit Ella Cox

3. If you have a camera then it's OK to use automatic mode

It’s there for a reason and this mode is perfect for capturing the quick shots that are often needed in with this type of photography. There’s no use trying to get the perfect settings for a shot, to then find the subject is nowhere to be seen by the time you’re ready.
If you are keen to move off this setting, then why not begin by practicing with semi-manual modes and using the manual modes on still subjects. This way, you can get to grips with how different settings affect your images. Most importantly, keep practicing.

4. Take a closer look

If you’re struggling to find interesting things to take photos of, try taking the time to stop and have a closer look at your surroundings. Look carefully under logs and stones and on the undersides of leaves. Keep your eyes peeled for things that seem out of the ordinary; you may be surprised by what you find. Just make sure you aren’t disturbing the wildlife and nature around you.

Centre for Wildlife Gardening planting

Credit Ella Cox

5. Take photos of things that YOU find interesting

This is so important! Don’t take photos just because you think they will appeal to others. Remember that photographs don’t have to be pretty (unless that’s what you enjoy of course). Photographing the things you’re interested in will give you the motivation to keep trying and most importantly allow you to enjoy yourself. You may find it interesting and refreshing to try stepping outside of your comfort zone every so often.


6. Be patient 

Nature is often unpredictable and you might not always get the shot you were hoping for. Certain wildlife can be difficult to find and photograph. Keep trying and don’t be so focused on trying to capture one subject that you start missing out on other interesting things happening around you. Why not just take the time to sit in one spot, or take a very slow walk and see what comes across your path?

Keeping it Wild at Hutchinson's Bank

Credit Ella Cox

7. Know your subject

It really helps if you know the habits and lifecycles of any wildlife you’re trying to snap. Knowing what time of year, what weather, and what habitats certain species require gives you the best chance of seeing them. If you’re at a reserve it can also be useful to use other people’s knowledge of the subject; try finding a warden and asking if they’ve spotted anything recently.

8. Take lots of photos

Take as many photos as you can. Often I’ll take hundreds of shots and only a few turn out the way I wanted!

Black lace weave spider

Black lace weave spider credit Ella Cox

9. Share your images

There’s a large community of beginner photographers out there, so don’t feel alone. Sharing your images can be a great way to connect with others and gain a range of useful advice, from how to improve on an image setting issue you  have to identintifying a species you've captured.
Sharing your images is also a great way to build confidence. If you take a photo on a London Wildlife Trust reserve then why not tag them, they often share tagged photos and your image could be featured!

10. Most importantly...

Have fun! Enjoy and learn from your time outdoors connecting with nature around you.

All photographs by Ella Cox. 

Keeping it Wild Trainees & Forum

Young people on the Keeping it Wild programme credit Penny Dixie

About Keeping it Wild

This is a new project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will empower and inspire 600 young people aged 11-25, from backgrounds currently under-represented in natural heritage, to gain vital skills while discovering, conserving and sharing their experiences of the capital’s wild spaces. 16-25-year-olds are invited to apply for a 12 week Traineeship, paid via a bursary. They are based at one of our reserves, where they spend time learning from the London Wildlife Trust team, gaining valuable practical skills in urban nature conservation. Additional support for the Traineeships has been generously donated by the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers.

Find out more about the project