The best trophy photographs taken are those in the field right after the kill and before the animal is dressed out. Nothing to me is worse than seeing a bloody animal lying in a truck bed with its tongue hanging out or hanging from a rafter in someone’s cluttered garage. Which brings me to?
Rule # 3 Composition and Preparation simply put means the preparation needed before taking your photos and the proper method of positioning the camera for a good shot.
Clean yourself and the animal up before being photographed. Take the time to wash off any visible blood from the animal and yourself, wet wipes or baby wipes are a good item to carry afield for such purposes. If you have blood on your hunting coat remove it. If the animal was field dressed prior to the photos position the body cavity and impact points so they cannot be seen in the photo.
Firstly look at the scene make sure that there is nothing in front of your subject such as tall grass or branches because if you’re using an automatic focus camera it will focus on the closest thing in the frame and what’s behind it will be out of focus. Pick up anything lying around in the area that will distract from the photo such as a backpack, camera case or perhaps a bottle of water you had been drinking. Basically anything that was not there before you arrived.
Rule #4 Taking the photograph
The hunter should be positioned behind the animal and off to the side, the horns or antlers should not be obstructed by any more of his hand or fingers than necessary. Keep in mind the animal is what matters the hunter is just a prop.
Many photographers in this situation concern themselves with background too much the best background is none at all or a clear sky. Contradictory to what many may think camouflage does not make a good backdrop for antler photos it can cause the antlers to look soft in the photo that is why I suggested having hunter positioned behind and to the side.
The best trophy photographs I have seen were all taken from a low angle. A great way of accomplishing this if laying down is not practical is to position the trophy on a log or rock to raise the head. Once the hunter is positioned with the animal have the photographer get as low to the ground as possible and shoot upward. This will provide a great effect. Too many shots are taken with the photographer standing up and shooting down on the subject which causes the scene to look flat and unnatural. Look at any outdoor magazine cover that has a trophy photo on its cover and I’m sure the ones that impress you most are those taken from an angle that provides a 3-D effect. Getting that effect should be the photographer’s goal that’s why taking photos from different angles with and without flash will enhance that possibility.
Common mistakes to avoid and other photo suggestions.
Mistake # 1 What is not in the viewfinder will NOT be in the picture. I know I’m repeating myself but this is the most common mistake made by photographers amateur or pro and it bears repeating. I don’t think there is a person who’s ever had a camera in their hands that has not left something out of a shot or cut off the top of someone’s head in a picture one time or another. Often the exciting moment of being able to capture a special moment takes over and in haste mistakes are made, all the more reason to take several photos if possible and make sure all of the subject is centered in that little viewfinder.
#2 Hats there good for protecting your head but notorious for hiding your subjects face.
Either remove them, raise the bills or use flash to fill in.