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How to become a wildlife photographer

Wildlife photographer :
A PASSIONATE CAREER!

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© Star Fish de Matthieu Sorey Garnier
© Star Fish de Matthieu Sorey Garnier

HISTORICALLY, MAN HAS ALWAYS SURROUNDED HIMSELF WITH ANIMAL REPRESENTATIONS (DRAWINGS, PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES, TROPHIES).

Animal photography is another way of capturing the life of our fellow animals, domestic or wild, which is much appreciated by the general public. It is a speciality in its own right which requires passion, technical skill and patience.

 

THE MISSIONS OF THE WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER

By definition, the wildlife photographer is a nature and animal enthusiast.


He looks for images without disturbing the animals, observing them, blending into the landscape. Add to this his duty to ensure that these images remain ethical so that the general public continues to appreciate them.

EACH PHOTOGRAPHER HAS HIS / HER OWN APPROACH TECHNIQUES

"You have to like loneliness to be a photographer", used to say Raymond Depardon.


This quote applies perfectly to wildlife photographers, whose way of life induces a special relationship with nature. Spotting, organising trips, knowing the animal world, its way of life, its habits, its habitat, its reactions... are essential. 


He / she therefore relies on solid naturalist knowledge to deal with his / her subject in the best possible way according to the perspectives agreed upon with his / her clients, if they work for magazines for example.

KNOW-HOW AND KNOWLEDGE

Even if a few self-taught people have managed to turn their passion into a profession, it is strongly advised to have a good degree in photography to enter the field.


Nothing beats the basics when you start your career, therefore a training in photography is recommended!  It will help you to understand all the tricks of the trade, the technical aspects (scanning, image retouching, DTP...).

 

With its forty years of experience, ETPA ensures that each of its students masters his / her professional, technical and artistic environments through three courses - the 2-year Photographer Practitioner course, geared towards photography and image processing; the 2-year BTS Photography course; and the third year of specialisation.


PATIENCE is the key word! Capable of staying hidden for long hours to capture the famous snapshot, the wildlife photographer must also show ingenuity: being a good photographer takes time!


Developing his / her own photographic style is also a key point. Perception and sensitivity in carrying out assignments are the guarantee of quality pictures.

CAREERS, SALARIES AND OPPORTUNITIESFew photographers can make a living exclusively from this type of photography. Many combine this passion with other more lucrative professional activities. As long as you make a living, without necessarily becoming a star in the speciality, you can expect to earn a salary of between 20,000 and 35,000€ per year.


Generally speaking, animal photographers, some of whom are journalists, work as freelancers, and have to take into account equipment maintenance, insurance, taxes, VAT, transport costs, etc.


Others work for magazines, newspapers, nature parks and other wildlife organisations.


Specialising in a highly specific field such as animal photography is a rational solution without totally closing the door to other fields because, once again, competition is fierce and opportunities are limited. Not everyone is Vincent Munier !