Be Patient… Let Them Come to You

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Much of the time spent in wildlife photography is pursuing the animals we want to photograph. I often tease that, “Yeah, I was out on the mountain chasing the elk around with my camera.” I do not mean this literally, of course. Chasing an animal is just not a very good idea if you intend to photograph it!

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So how can you actually get closer to the wild animals? Be patient and let them come to you. That’s right, be patient. In our fast-paced society today, this is not an easy thing for many people to do. Being patient means taking the time to stay in one place for an extended period of time.

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Last week, while shooting the Pennsylvania Elk, we were on a hill with a small harem of cows and a couple of bulls within about 100 yards of us. We had our cameras on our tripods and were capturing some photographs at that distance. We patiently remained in that one location for well over an hour. Amazingly, the elk ever so slowly began to feed in our direction. They didn’t close the distance by leaps and bounds; rather, they slowly mossyed in our direction. This took time and we remained patient.

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Eventually, the bull moved to within a few yards of our location. You can see in these photos that I now had too much lens with my 200-400mm. It was an amazing experience!

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The key was staying still and patient, while letting the animals slowly feed in our direction instead of chasing them by trying to get closer. I firmly believe that most photographers will get better photographs if they practiced more patience with their subjects. The next time you are shooting wildlife, practice more patience. Remain in one location and let them work toward you. It is an amazing experience when this happens and you will get some incredible photos, too!

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4 Responses to “Be Patient… Let Them Come to You”

  1. Now I understand about the camo! Who is that guy on the right?

    • A similar thing happened to me one year when I saw firsthand how camouflage really works. While it is not absolutely necessary for photographing the PA elk, I definitely can see its advantages. Wasn’t that a great night up on the hill?

      • I really look pretty silly next to Dick. When I bought that shirt I expected it to be a different color. O well, I can use it for lawn mowing.

  2. This post is spot on. It takes patience and eventually most of the elk seem to accept us and I actually think that some of them like to get close to us and spend time in our area.

    I have even noted this in the Winslow Hill back country where that elk may be very edgy when they see you walk into a field, but if you act as though you are not interested in them and wander to whatever strategic spot you would like to operate from and then remain still that they will often accept you and then go about their daily routine the same as they do in the areas where they are really acclimated to people.

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