As a wildlife photographer, I often have the opportunity to photograph incredible snakes in their natural habitats. While these creatures make for stunning subjects, it’s crucial to capture these images safely without disturbing or threatening the animal. Here are my top tips for photographing snakes while prioritizing both your safety and theirs:
1. Use a long lens. A telephoto lens of at least 200mm allows you to keep a safe distance from the snake while still getting frame-filling shots. This is the single most important piece of gear for snake photography.
2. Give snakes their space. Never approach, touch, or interact with a snake. Keep at least 6-10 feet away and give them room to slither away if they choose. Their behavior will be more natural if they don’t feel threatened.
3. Research ahead of time. Before photographing a certain species, study their behaviors, venom levels, typical habitats, activity patterns, and defensive postures. This will help you act appropriately and get the shots you want.
4. Move slowly and steadily. Sudden movements can provoke aggressive responses. Move smoothly and predictably so the snake isn’t startled.
5. Observe from a low angle. Getting eye-level with the snake provides a more dramatic, engaging perspective for photos. Just make sure you do so from a flat, non-threatening body position.
6. Wait for natural behavior. Have patience and allow the snake to act normally, such as emerging from hiding spots or interacting with their environment. This will result in authentic, dynamic images.
Following these tips, wildlife photographers can capture snakes in their glory while staying safe. Do your research, invest in proper gear, keep your distance, and respect the animal, and you’ll be rewarded with phenomenal snake shots.