When photographing animals, I’m usually trying to find a way to express something of their nature.  What is it that makes them intriguing? Are they elegant in their markings or plumage? Are they solitary or social? A fierce predator or wary herbivore? What does their habitat say about them? What can be seen in their eyes?  What are their habits?

These questions provide a foundation for making quick decisions in the moment.  As with a human portrait, an animal’s eyes are a great default starting point.  Context is another aspect of any subject’s story and, with animals, it is an essential component of their reality. And, when it comes to wildlife, the landscape of an animal species habitat can be engaged in its own right, adding drama and design to a photograph. (Next: Wildlife, Part 2)