Why Being An Animal Photographer Sucks Big Time

The job of a wildlife photographer looks like a blast. Traveling to remote places and getting up close and personal with beautiful animals sounds incredibly adventurous.

If you think animal photography is a dream job, think again. Having to capture wild animals on camera can be a very challenging and dangerous task. Not all of them are cute and fuzzy.


1. OK, some of them are cute and fuzzy.


2. Others not so much.

Don’t be mistaken – this is not a fully grown leopard. It’s merely a rowdy teenager in need of entertainment and play time. Yet, the encounter was terrifying enough for the Russian wildlife photographers traveling Namibia. They got away with a few bruises, destroyed equipment and great photographs.


3. Playtime is clearly over.

While photographing wild elephants in South Africa, this camera team got attacked by a particularly wild teenage elephant. Not interested in having any more photos taken, it showed the photographers what an adrenaline rush really feels like. None of them suffered any injuries but most of their equipment got destroyed. Hope you’re happy with yourself, Dumbo!

4. Open that lunchbox now.

This female polar bear got a severe case of the munchies when seeing wildlife photographer Gordon Buchanan in Svalbard, Arctic Norway. Luckily, Buchanan remained unharmed, cowering in a safety cage. “Without a doubt she wanted me for lunch,” said Gordon, “She was so persistent, looking for a weak spot. I was terrified. You could hear my heartbeat over the microphone.” Just take a very close look at those teeth. Impressive and horrifying at the same time.


5. “Out of my way!”

When visiting the Kwitonda gorilla group in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, wildlife photographer Christophe Courteau got a souvenir scar from an encounter with this massive silverback gorilla. He must have felt threatened by Courteau. Being punched by a gorilla might not be the best of all holiday experiences but certainly the most memorable one.


6. Hating on those paparazzi.

This unknown camera man had to realize that an eagle is not just a bird – it’s a very big one, too. He was filming an annual hunting competition in Chengelsy Gorge, Kazakhstan, when this golden eagle developed an anger management problem.

7. Not only predators can prey.

Photographing deer is a piece of cake. That’s correct – until they headbutt you to the ground and then jump around like they’re on meth. Photographer James York got knocked over and then repeatedly attacked by an elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


8. Crane with an attitude.

This photographer was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. At least the crane thought so and was determined to show it.


9. If you really have to become a wildlife photographer…

… always stay on land. Seasoned shark photographer Mark Rackley needed 58 stitches after being attacked by a blue shark. Rackley blames himself for sneaking up too close to the elegant predator: “I kind of made this happen. This didn’t have anything to do with shark behaviour. I’ve had numerous close calls and I’ve seen that type of strike before.”

10. Safety first.

Here are a few safety rules for future wildlife photographers by National Geographic. The most important one: resist your urge to cuddle fuzzy baby bears. Mama bear is never far away.