As part of our 2021 Public Lands and Waters Photo Contest, our judges are offering some tips to improve your photography while out recreating on our public lands and waters. For our fourth and final installment, West Yellowstone-based wildlife photographer, fishing and YNP snowmobile guide Chris Daniel offers tips to up your photography when outdoors...and reminds you why you carry a camera out there in the first place!I moved out to Montana from central Pennsylvania back in 2006. As soon as I showed up, I knew I had to start documenting my journeys. I can’t tell you how many disposable cameras I burned through - and how many trips I made to the local camera store to get images developed - over two years. In 2008, my mom gave me the best Christmas gift I had ever received: a brand new Nikon D90 camera. That was all it took to light the photographic fire! For the past 14 years I have been guiding fly fishing trips all over southwestern Montana and snowmobile trips into Yellowstone with cameras in tow.One of the ideals that I would have to pass on is to never give up with the images you want to capture. Photography is hard, and if you want a picture of something, don’t stop until you snap that perfect image. Sometimes that may require multiple trips to capture the light differently. It also can mean returning to try out different angles than the ones you had initially composed in your head.
It goes without saying that patience is a virtue. Great images don’t usually walk right into your lens. Sometimes that may require you hiding in the bushes for hours waiting for your subject to appear or start hunting. The waiting game will always pay off. Remember, ALWAYS respect your subjects as well as where you are shooting. Never harass wildlife or wild places. Be it a small songbird or the mighty bison, you always want your subjects to be comfortable with you being in their space. This will help them feel safe while you to get the shot you desire.
My last but probably most important tip: HAVE FUN and enjoy being outdoors! You don’t need to take the best pictures in the world; you just need to take pictures that make YOU happy! Happy shooting!
BHA member Chris Daniel is a multi-published and award winning photographer and BHA member. Some of his work can be seen in Montana Outdoors, Wyoming Wildlife and Fly Fisherman magazines as well as numerous instructional fly fishing books. Chris resides in West Yellowstone with his wife Mindy and their two cats. He works as a fly fishing guide during the summer months and leads wildlife photography trips on snowmobiles into Yellowstone Park during the winter months. Chris is constantly searching the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as well as traveling the globe, for new and exciting photo opportunities. When not working you can find him chasing trout in the waters he loves to call home. View more of his work at his website here and follow his adventures on his Instagram at @mt406shooter.