Stories in Wildlife Photography

Published on 26 December 2023 at 22:40

Portrait of a heron (2022)

2022 was the year of wildlife and bird portraits for me. For 2023, I set myself the challenge of focusing on birds in flight, as well as action shots. You can see more in my 2023 round-up.

The limitation that arises with focusing just on animal portraits and action shots, however, is that while the images work fine stand-alone, they are missing a story. I became more aware of the lack of stories in my work while putting together submissions a few wildlife competitions. And this lack of stories makes sense. So far I have approached wildlife and bird photography as individual images and not as a series.

Going forward, I want to consciously approach wildlife photography from a storytelling point of view. Thus, for 2024, every time I go out into the field, my objective is to return with a series of shots covering the following:

  • Zoom out: show the habitat, place the subject in context, give the viewer a sense of the place
  • Documentary photography: not all images have to be artistic, messaging is important
  • Action shots: particularly inter and intra-species interactions like mating, fighting etc.
  • Behavior shots: behavior that people might not have seen before
  • Portraits with something unique: use light direction, weather for the extra oomph

It is not necessary to go in with a story already formed. That rarely happens. The goal is to come back with diverse enough shots that a story can be crafted out of them.

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