Nature photographers capture scenes of the great outdoors on camera—mountains, forests, oceans, rivers, lakes, canyons and deserts. Nature photography often features wild animals in their native habitat. These photographers tend to have a deep appreciation for the outdoors and animals, and they are likely to be versatile in their craft, offering services in people and animal portraiture, all kinds of landscapes (urban and wild) as well as nature photography. Many photographers who shoot portraits and events outdoors can potentially serve clients’ needs for custom nature photographs to be used as home decor or for editorial purposes. In other words, they need not have worked for National Geographic to be able to capture the nature photos you need.
Spend time looking at photographers’ photo samples and websites to get a sense of their style and breadth of experience. Experienced photographers tend to be passionate about their craft, so you’re likely to see variety in their work samples. If you don’t see the type of nature photos you’re looking for, ask if they have samples they can share that might fit the bill.
If you need professional-grade photos of wildlife close by, you’ll obviously pay less than if the job requires travel. If the shoot location is 50 or more miles from where the photographer is based, you’ll pay more to cover the cost of gas and drive time. If you need shots from a variety of natural or outdoor scenes, look for a few photographers based in locations throughout the United States, from sea to shining sea. Thumbtack pros mentioned here hail from Oregon, Indiana and Hawaii. Blue Iris Photography can document your event near Anchorage, Alaska, or provide you with one-of-a-kind images of the 49th state’s natural wonders.
In the same vein, the time of day and weather conditions at the time of the shoot affect the final cost. If you need photos of a snow scene, for example, the photographer may need special equipment—ask if he or she already has what is needed. If you need shots in wet weather—or underwater images—that also requires special equipment and expertise.
Most pros shoot with digital equipment and deliver the final images as high-resolution files for download or on a CD or USB thumb drive. Many experienced pros offer to hand-print hard copy images for clients, and some use photo printing services that allow customers to select images and purchase prints directly. Lorelei Vaughn of Wildcat Photography offers print services as well as digital delivery, and she can even create simple websites for clients.
If your project does not require custom images and you can’t afford to travel to the location yourself, consider purchasing the rights to use one or more photographers’ existing photo(s). Vaughn has many nature shots on her website available for purchase, as does Jeff Snyder. Based in Hawaii, Noel Morata has numerous images he has captured of the islands’ natural beauty in the gallery sections of his website—most of which are available for sale.
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