In the event that the Whitetail Gods choose to smile upon you by granting you a successful hunt, prepare now to capture that moment with your camera. Being an amateur photographer, my level of camera expertise is not impressive. But after a few decades of many field photo failures and a few field photo success stories, I offer the following tips that I have learned the hard way.
The lucky hunter above is my nephew, Luke. I consider this field photo of Luke’s best buck to be my favorite one of his deer. Luke looks natural and comfortable as he safely holds his weapon with one hand while proudly displaying his trophy with the other hand. The sky acts as a great backdrop which really accents the antlers The deer was not yet field dressed and all evidence of blood was wiped away prior to the photo shoot.
TIP #1 = TAKE SOME PHOTOS CLOSE UP (AS SEEN ABOVE) AND ALSO TAKE SOME FARTHER AWAY IN CASE YOU WISH TO ENLARGE THE PHOTO IN THE FUTURE.
TIP #2 = GET LOW! USE THE LIGHT-COLORED SKY AS A BACKDROP TO HIGHLIGHT THE DARK ANTLERS WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
TIP #3 = TAKE SOME PHOTOS WITH A FLASH AND THEN TAKE SOME PHOTOS WITHOUT A FLASH – you will be amazed at the differences. Some hunters prefer the look of a flash photo while others like photos with no flash.
TIP #4 = TAKE PHOTOS AT THE SITE OF THE RECOVERY. BUT THEN TAKE ADDITIONAL PHOTOS IN THE MOST SCENIC SETTING YOU CAN FIND – IT IS IMPORTANT TO DO THIS PRIOR TO FIELD DRESSING THE DEER IF AT ALL POSSIBLE.
TIP #5 = TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS – everyone blinks now and then!
TIP #6 = TAKE A FEW PHOTOS OF THE ANIMAL FROM BEHIND – SO THAT YOU CAN SEE THE BACK OF HIS ANTLERS. While non-traditional, this pose offers a unique look at your trophy.
TIP #7 = TAKE PHOTOS THAT SHOW OFF ALL OF THE DEER’S POINTS IF POSSIBLE. The photo below makes this 11-pointer look like a 9-pointer. Also, notice how much the antlers blend in with the background versus photo #1 where the sky as the background shows off the antlers.
TIP #8 = DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Pose the deer and the hunter in several different settings to provide different angles and points-of-view. The end goal is to capture the hunter’s special moment of happiness and to display his trophy in a manner that can be cherished for a lifetime.
TIP #9 = DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE AWFUL PICTURES. You sometimes need to take a bunch of poor photos before you can appreciate the good ones. (In the photo below, the deer’s head is crooked, the camera setting is causing the photo to appear under-exposed, Luke’s gun looks like it is going to fall over, Luke looks uncomfortable, etc).
Few hunters will ever be as fortunate as Luke. But if your number comes up (and even if it “comes up” with a much smaller deer), take the extra time to capture the moment with your camera. Be creative by trying different camera settings and different poses. Remember that you only get ONE chance to capture really good field photos – make it count!