Taking a picture of your friend or in our case our clients with their trophy’s is probably the most important part of a hunting trip. If you get to this stage you have already done the hard walking, Sweating, Crawling, Stalking and spend the our’s strategising the hunt. No you have your quarry.
Some guys tend to then take one or two pictures because they will have the trophy made up by a Taxidermist and shipped to his/her house and put up for display. That is great but you still miss that moment when you sit down next to that animal after all the hard work and that feeling of success whilst you are admiring the magnificent animal lying before you.
In my experience a picture can tell a thousand words and will guaranteed bring back those emotions and memories. Thats what you want when you look through that album.
We spend quite some time after the hunt taking pictures and making sure we have the best quality and the best setup. Please don’t get me wrong we are not doing a full fletched photo shoot with flashes and fluffers. We really just want to capture that moment on film.
So after all of that here’s what I always suggest when taking that perfect trophy picture.
1.Get as low as possible to take the picture.
You must remember that you want to take a picture on the level of the animal thats why you get low. It will put everything into perspective.
2. Put the Client next to or behind the animal
Please remember if you place the client behind the animal don’t put him too far back it will misrepresent the size of the animal. The only time you do that is if you want to take the picture between the horns of a large horned animal, Kudu, Gemsbuck ect.
3. Make Sure you are in direct sunlight, no shadows
Place the animal in direct line of the sun so the shadow would be behind the client and the animal
4. Clean the area and the animal & remove all blood if possible.
Take a slasher and a brush with you, have it in your recovery vehicle. Clean the area in front of the animal and brush all the loose grass and debris off the hide. Most importantly, close the mouth and remove all the blood possible. Make the area look as natural as possible. Blood never looks good on a photo.
5. Keeping the head upright
This is probably one of the most difficult things to manage. Please make sure when you absolutely have to use a stick make sure it is not shown in the picture. I would prefer it if you don’t use a stick. Also DON’T let the client hold the head upright. He can use his knees or his feet but never his hands. We use an extra long screw driver. Firstly you hammer the screwdriver in line with the head and place the mouth over the screw driver this will keep the head from falling. You need to thicken the end a bit for it to work.
The only animal we like taking sideways would be Buffalo in the traditional side on head up photo. Due to the size of Elephant you take the pic as it falls you really have no choice in the matter there.
6. Background and placement.
When you take the picture make sure you have some sky light behind the horns so that you can see the entire length. Never let the client hold the horns or sit behind or obscure the horns. Place the client flat on his bum and if he wants to hold the rifle let him hold it in front of him muzzle facing away from the horns. Or alternatively place the rifle in front of the animal at the hind quarters also facing away from the horns.
7. Take photos of everything and in every position its always good too pick one than to say “I should have taken more”
Enjoy taking those pictures
PH, Bernard de Lange