Weekly Photography Tips - Keep Your Head On A Swivel

Photography seems like a relatively safe activity but to get the good shots sometimes you put yourself in potentially dangerous situations. We have all seen the stories of people falling off of cliffs or getting gored by bison while trying to get that ultimate selfie. The problem with photography, especially when you begin to use more complicated equipment and start chasing really amazing compositions, is that it requires you to focus on what you're doing and little else.

Keeping up with what's going on around me is usually just a matter of making sure a large wave doesn't catch me or a thunderstorm doesn't get too close. This past weekend it took on new meaning, photographing the elk rut in Cataloochee Valley meant being in close proximity to large mammals.


You can make sure you are safe but the problem arises when you are focused on the shot and the hazard approaches you. At one point during the weekend I found myself between the large bull elk and a challenger with very little room to backup.


When you are in situations like this you need to keep your head on a swivel. Have a spotter with you that can watch your back and keep an eye out for danger. Instead of keeping your eye in the viewfinder back off and use the LCD to get a wider view of what's going on. Use your other senses, listen for changes in the ambient noise that could signal a problem. Whatever you do, don't become so focused on what you are doing that you place yourself in mortal danger.

The photographer above is an experienced wildlife shooter but this bull elk unexpectedly crossed the road and seemed to walked right up to him. He didn't panic but simply stood up and stepped behind the tree until the elk walked off. Remember when you're out there maintain situational awareness and keep your head on a swivel.


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