Here’s some help getting the best trophy photo possible.
What’s wrong with the picture above? Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot. It depends on how particular you are about hunting photography.
After the hunt is over and the time has come to get a great photo of that monster buck or giant turkey you spent all season hunting, it’s natural to want a quality photo you can be proud of to show off your kill. When it comes to getting the best photo possible, you don’t have to be a professional photographer.
You simply have to understand a few basic rules of photography in order to get a great shot you’ll be proud to show your friends. View the slideshow to see what we are talking about.
Good Lighting is Key
The most important thing to remember when trying to get a good shot of your trophy animal is to pay attention to lighting. If you’re lucky enough to bring down your trophy during the day rather than near dusk, you will have a great opportunity to use natural light to your advantage. Make sure you keep the sun at your back and make note of your subject. If you’re getting a friend to take a shot of you with your trophy, take a quick shot of him or her with your animal in the position you will be in and note if your friend has to squint into the light. If so, move your shot enough to eliminate the squint and get a good idea of how your shot will turn out.
Eliminate Dead Space
One of the biggest mistakes people make when taking a photo is failure to eliminate dead space. Focus on your subject and fill the shot with what matters (meaning hunter and animal, not background or open sky). Since you will be in the shot with your animal, use a pre-focus technique on your animal in the position you prefer and instruct whomever is taking the shot for you how you want the photo focused. By eliminating empty space in your photo, you will bring focus back to where it is important, on you and your trophy.
Hide the Blood (If You Can)
A fellow hunter would understand, but someone who doesn’t know the sport or is a bit squeamish won’t want to look at a photo of a bloody animal, no matter how big it is. If it’s possible, hide the entrance or exit wound and clean off any residual blood from around the nostrils or mouth of your trophy. It just takes a second, and it will make putting the photo up at work much less controversial. Just trust us. Try to also be mindful of your clothes. If you have bloodstains from cleaning or dragging your trophy animal, do all you can to either hide or cover up the blood.
Get Close, But Not Too Close
This is similar to eliminating dead space. You want to fill your frame with what matters, but do it with care. It isn’t necessary to see every nose hair on your deer, or on you for that matter. You want your photo to appear as if the person looking at it is standing about ten feet away. If your photo is framed well and in focus roughly ten feet away from the photographer, you should be good to go.
Take Several Shots
Professional photographers live by this rule. Take several shots – not just one. Never rely on a single photo to capture an important moment. Give yourself some options.
The Rule of Thirds
In photography, the rule of thirds means every photo frame is divided vertically into three sections (left, right, and center). Often the most interesting photos employ the rule of thirds by placing the subject in one area either to the right or left of center. Once the basics are understood, photos using the rule of thirds can turn into the best trophy photos you’ve ever seen.
Pay Attention to the Background
When framing a trophy photo, using the background to your advantage rather than against you can be tricky. Pay attention to your background and use it to your advantage, but don’t let it take up the majority of your frame. In addition, don’t let a distracting object find its way behind your trophy and deter from the focus of the shot. In other words, if you can just see the corner of your truck tailgate behind your left ear, move the shot. Eliminate distractions and you’ll get a better result.
Watch Shadows & Backlighting
Proper photo placement means locating a shot where shadows don’t affect facial features or important photo details. In addition, backlighting (light that shines behind a subject and toward the camera) can greatly affect the quality of a photo. Be careful when framing a shot that you don’t end up with a photo where the hunter’s face is lost in shadow caused by improper backlighting.
If you can, always take a photo of your trophy in natural settings. Photos taken on the back of a truck or in the shed where you plan on cleaning your animal never turn out as well as shots taken in the field.
For Night Photos, Wait Until You Get Back to Camp
If you are forced to take a picture after dark, then do it where you can get access to light. Use whatever light source you can find, but remember the rest of the rules mentioned here. Watch your background, pay attention to dead space, and be careful of backlighting. Night photos are less than ideal, but if you have no choice, be sure you do the best you can with what you have.