Recently I was in Kaua'i and an Hawaiian monk seal hauled out on a crowded beach near where I was walking. Naturally I grabbed my camera and long lens to photograph her from a respectable distance. Naturally most everyone else pulled out their smart phones to take selfies with her in the background. And as people commented about my camera while I was busy trying to get a shot, or plunked themselves directly in front of me to pose, or, as one middle-aged man told me, "You should take that big camera and point it over there because see that rainbow? Yeah you should take a picture of that," this video was running through my head:
Wildlife photographers, especially those photographing in public parks and wilderness preserves, tend to get a lot of the above. While some questions are certainly welcome, like curiosity about the species and what is taking place, other questions like specific questions about camera gear, comparisons to iPhone photography, and especially what one should be taking photos of are, well, less than welcome. So too are actions like using a loud voice and disturbing the wildlife being photographed, letting your dog run loose and scare off the animals, and in general hovering over a photographer's shoulder while they're working. So, just so you know next time you come across someone with a large lens hunkered down where you're hiking...
I have heard of one wildlife photographer whose ingenious wife made him a shirt that has a fill-in-the-blank form printed on the back that answers what he's photographing and the camera equipment he's using, so he can hopefully avoid having to verbally answer the FAQ. Just use a washable marker to write in the data and he can have just a wee bit of quiet time while trying to concentrate. Though he might also get a lot of comments about his shirt this way.
On the up side, wildlife photography requires an inordinate amount of patience waiting for your target species to show up and engage in interesting behavior in beautiful lighting with the perfect background. And with so much practice in patience, hopefully wildlife photographers have a little extra to spare when folks like the woman in the video start hanging around.
Related posts on MNN:
- Wildlife photography in city parks: A how-to guide
- 13 'How did you get that?' wildlife photos from Tin Man Lee
- The stories behind 3 amazing, award-winning wildlife photos