Three best ways to photograph an Elephant

As I have mentioned in blogs before, I often find it difficult to photograph animals such as rhinos, buffaloes and elephants. In this blog I am going to focus on three of the best ways to photograph an elephant.

When it comes to photography, many of us tend to get caught up in the technical stuff and forget about the basics, and sometimes the basics are all that is needed to create a beautiful image.

I often fall into this trap myself and have to remind myself why I am taking that specific photograph and focus more on how I can highlight my subject in that specific moment.

What do I mean by this? Well, with a variety of camera gear there is always a variety of different images on offer in a single sighting of a single subject, what we need to do as photographers is recognize what draws our eye to the scene/subject and then establish what gear we can use to best highlight what we are seeing.

Elephants, being large and grey animals can be very difficult to capture as they often blend into their surroundings, especially in the drier months of the year. So how do you go about capturing these incredible giants and do them justice through your lens?

Like I mentioned earlier, keep it simple!

Capture your subject in their environment - Shoot Wide!

The easiest way is to capture them in their environment, by doing this it often shows of the scale of the area in comparison to your subject, or use the light to your advantage, especially early morning and late afternoon in the drier months - get that golden colouration.

By capturing your animal in its environment, it doesn't only showcase your subject but it also tells the story of where the image was taken.

3 of the best ways to capture an elephant
Photographed in Tarangire National Park

3 of the best ways to capture an elephant
Photographed in Madikwe Game Reserve

3 of the best ways to capture an elephant
Photographed in Ngorongoro Crater

As you can see in the above images, the subject isn't doing much, but by taking a wider shot including the surroundings, it shows off the area they are in, as well as the size of the animal. It also shows how different a simple image can look in three different places.


This is a personal favorite of mine. I absolutely love capturing images of different textures, from a leopard's coat to an elephant's skin. When traveling and being out on safari, sometimes we find that we have too big a zoom lens to capture our subject in their environment, this isn't always a problem, it just means we need to put a little more thought into our images. I find a great way, especially when an animal as big as an elephant is close, shooting with an aperture value of F12(Depth of field) allows you to take nice close up detailed shots keeping the entire image in focus.

3 of the best ways to capture an elephant

Black and White Conversions

It sounds crazy, but a subject such as elephants being grey, love black and white images. I find it very difficult to just turn an image into black and white, so there are a few things that I look out for - Clean surroundings and backgrounds, textures and high contrast.

I find that it just adds that x-factor that may be missing. I am at the point now where when I am out in the field, my guests and I will look at specific scenes and subjects and take the image for the sole purpose of turning it into black and white afterwards in post processing. It is very rewarding as a photographer to envision an image that isn't necessarily there and create it just by our very own though process.

I hope that you find these three tips helpful and you will be able to utilize them when you are next out in the field and wondering how you can best capture these magnificent giants.

Until next time,


One thought on “Three best ways to photograph an Elephant

  1. Milena gonzalez


    Fantastic article, great info . You guys are doing a fantastic job! Entertaining and instructional

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