Wildlife photography workshop

Many years ago I was fortunate to attend a workshop by the fabulous Sue Flood. A famous wildlife photographer who has been one of my main inspirations over the years, starting with her penguin book. I have run a few workshops at Pukaha, meeting the most amazing and passionate people on the way. My first workshop is one I will never forget, a lovely pair of ladies whose goal of the day was to photograph and see kiwi. We were lucky that morning to see the kiwi chicks receive their health checks and after snapping away through the window it was time to enjoy the moment. Taking in the moment is something we quite often forget to do, myself included. We get so caught up trying to see everything through the lens, there is so much we miss out on. So here are my top tips for a fun wildlife photography experience.

Enjoy the moment

Watching the saddleback feed is always an entertaining experience! With berries flying everywhere, excited birds flit around not sitting still for a second, looking for the best treat. Straight after this photo was taken, the female came and the male fed her all the berries he had just seemingly collected for himself. There were many branches and leaves in the way, had I spent the time trying to get them in shot I would have missed this beautiful bonding moment between the pair.


Birds are loud! Especially the kaka and kakariki. One key part of the workshop is identifying birds and their calls, listening out for their tiny churps or loud screeches. A bird calling often has company near by. By waiting patiently you might be rewarded by a close encounter - in our case, a very cheeky, curious kaka!

Enjoy your photos

Let's be realistic for a moment. Deep in the forest, where the lighting is all wrong, the birds are hard to find and are not sitting still, you might not get award winning images. However, you will get a photo of that one bird you were so excited to see. My all time favourite photo is of a kokako, high in the tree tops just showing the wattles. This was the first time I saw one in the wild and the first one I photographed and I love it. If a photo is special to you, own it!

This rifleman was on the 'must-see' list for the last workshop. They really didn't make it easy for us!

A sparkle in the eye

One piece of advice I received and always tell people is focus on the eyes. If you can get that little sparkle of light it brings so much more to your image. It draws your attention naturally to the birds face and gives it life. The sparkle also makes it seem like you have a connection with the bird, like you are both aware of each other. Compare this one to the rifleman photo above, the rifleman appears to have no interest in us!

I hope you enjoyed my little guide to wildlife photography, and that you have fun when you are out and about taking photos, remembering to enjoy the moment!