6 Tips for Ethically Photographing Wildlife
Wildlife photography has gone to new heights, thanks to sophisticated equipment, the internet, and social media.
Whether you’re an amateur with the latest iPhone or a pro with high-tech gadgets, taking and sharing photographs of wildlife has never been easier.
Wildlife photography can also help raise awareness of the struggles animals go through. Whether it’s climate change, logging, or urban development, photographers can take great photos and do good at the same time by using their voice to amplify the needs of these species.
But sometimes our efforts to get that perfect shot causes problems for the wildlife.
Although your photo viewer may not be aware, the animal feeling the impact certainly knows!
The Ottawa Valley is heading into fall and even more photographers will be in our parks and wild spaces snapping shots of the animals calling this region home.
Before you head out to the parks and wilderness, explore these 6 tips for ethically photographing wildlife.
Don’t stage the habitat
We know the struggle to get that IG-worthy photo, but please don’t change or interfere with the natural environment to snap your pic.
Moving a fallen leaf is one thing, but ripping off branches, moving rocks, tearing out plants, or bringing in non-native species like your own flowers can cause a lot of harm to the environment.
Another example of interference is owl baiting, where photographers will bring in live mice to try to lure owls out of hiding or wake them up to get their photograph.
While we all want that perfect shot, we shouldn’t be changing their habitat in any way.
Don’t interfere with the animal
We just spoke about not interfering with their home and the same rule applies for the animals themselves.
Avoid posing animals, trying to get their attention by making noise or throwing things, or moving them in any way.
Animals need to feel safe in their environment to flourish and having people poke, prod, or yell at them may cause unnecessary stress or result in them relocating entirely.
It’s important you know the signs of stress in the species you’ll be photographing so both you and the animal can remain safe.
Know when breeding season is and be careful
Many animals may become more aggressive in general during breeding season, particularly male members of the species. Interfering with an animal during breeding season can have dangerous results.
Species at risk also need extra space during this time. Interacting with them, whether by baiting or luring them, touching them, or using fake calls, can heighten their stress levels or change their habits during breeding season. Human interference is a major threat to the survival of species at risk.
Keep it wild
The species calling Ottawa Valley home are beautiful, majestic, and wild – and it should stay that way.
Avoid petting or feeding wild animals. When this happens, they become accustomed to human presence and may migrate to more densely populated areas to find food.
This may result in other animals, including species at risk, losing their food source or human-wildlife incidents, such as driving collisions.
Know the laws
There are many locations across the Ottawa Valley where you can capture stunning images of wildlife, but there are a few spots community members can’t go.
It’s important to double-check the laws and rules of where you’re headed so you know the rules about trespassing, dealing with endangered wildlife, drones, and much more.
Everyone loves a good story, including how you got your fantastic photo!
Give the backstory of how you got that photo, any changes you made, and present it honestly. Adjusting photos to showcase them more true-to-the-moment (like adjusting the colour to make the sun rise pop accurately) is fine, but adding elements that were never there? That’s a different story.