Trophy photos are the most common, most shared pictures when it comes to telling last season’s success stories, and are often seen on the covers of hunting magazines. With some simple tips and a little planning, you can take your trophy field photos to the next level, regardless of the situation, and more fully respect the life the animal gave by memorializing it in a great field photo. To start, here are some simple do’s and don’ts.
- Clean up the animal. Be sure to wipe away excess blood (I carry a pack of baby wipes for this purpose). Tuck the tongue into the mouth and close it.
- Quickly position the animal in a natural position, before rigor mortis sets in. I like a “bedded” look where the feet are tucked up under them. This position works especially well if you have already gutted the animal.
- Have your tripod or camera person set up in a low position. The best shots have the camera shooting up, towards the subject. (It will likely require your cameraman to lie on his/her belly)
- If at all possible, wait for flat light (the first or last hour of light) to take pictures. It may require you to gut the animal first, and wait a while before packing out, but it will be worth it. These golden hours alleviate the harsh light that cause dark shadows, and really soften your trophy photos.
- If the temperature is cool enough, and there isn’t an issue with predators or scavengers, you may consider propping the animal up against a tree overnight, using Para chord, to get good morning lighting. If you choose to do this, apply a thin coat of cooking oil to the eyes, nose, mouth, and antlers to showcase the animal better.
- Take a few shots of just the animal.
- Be creative and take a lot of pictures, you can never have too many. Try mixing up vertical and horizontal shots.
- Take a few photos both with and without the flash, to see what turns out better.
- Lastly, smile.
- Don’t forget that the animal is the star. Don’t make it about you, showcase the animal as a means of respect and gratitude.
- Don’t straddle the animal.
- Don’t take pictures in the back of your truck, be prepared to do it in the field. It’s fine if you need to get the animal to the truck before you take the photos, but rotate your shot to show a natural backdrop, without the truck, ATV or house in the background.
- Don’t take your pictures in sunglasses, remove them.
- Don’t change into street clothes, take the pictures in what you wore for the hunt, even if they are dirty or a bit bloody.
- Don’t take a selfie, unless you can frame the photo correctly with a tripod and timer, “duck face” selfies belong in the gym, not the backcountry, and certainly not in a solemn moment of respect for an animal.
- Don’t take “full-arm-extension” photos, holding the buck as far from you as possible to make him look bigger. This tactic is obvious and the buck is big enough just how he is. Relax, be natural, and smile.
This article originally appeared on the Hoyt.com website.