African Safari Photography. 6 Tips to improve your photos while on safari

African Safari Photography: Memories. Memories that stay with you forever. Petty much the reason you want to go on safari.

What better way to preserve these memories than capturing them on camera? They say a picture is worth more than a thousand words, and people tend to believe it when they see it. All the reason to carry with you that camera to document every step of your amazing trip.

Your Safari photos just serve to trigger a great and vivid flashback of your time on safari. And that is priceless especially when it has been a few years since you went on that safari. A good picture will bring everything – the emotion and experience, back to you and take you back to that wonderful moment.

Here are some of the tips to help you capture the right moments the right way:

Safari Photography Tips

1. Patience

Remember, you are in the wild. This won’t be like it is back home with a couple of your buds on a night out. To get the perfect shots, you might have to sit and wait for quite some time.

You want to take less crowded shots, no other tourist Vehicles in the background and yet at a great angle. Staying a while longer gives you a chance to observe some interesting animal behaviour which makes for great photography.

A baby elephant feeding, young zebras playing around, a leopard positioned on the water banks for a sip of water a hippopotamus immersed in water with its mouth wide open to the sky or even the female and male giraffes stretching to eat from the tallest branches of a tree. Certain behaviours you might not be able to see or capture if you do not stick around a lot longer than the others.

2. Choose The Right Gear


You should aim at selecting gear that will do everything you want without weighing you down or inconveniencing you. Think Interchangeable lenses. The Long lens (200 – 400 mm) and wide lens.

For much better convenience, carry two cameras, one with each to be able to switch from one to another and not miss any action in between. The long lens gives you an advantage over others, you can take pretty intimate pictures without getting too close to the animals or capture the different kinds of birds without scaring them off.


If you are doing serious photography, you might want to carry a tripod to help stabilize and avoid unnecessary shaking. When organizing with your tour agent, select a car that offers an open roof ‘window mount’, giving you enough space to ensure your camera and take stable pictures.

Memory and storage

Consider carrying a portable hard drive. The portable hard drive will enable you to transfer your photos from the memory cards at the end of each day. Even better if you carry your laptop with you.

There are quite a lot of things worth picturing in the wild, you do not want to run out of space halfway through the game drive. You don’t want to waste time deleting some photos when you come across something fascinating and risk losing a few good shots you took earlier. You want to ensure you have enough storage until the end of the day when you retire back.

Do not forget that charger, extra memory cards and a spare battery especially for hikers who plan to be out there for days. You want to be prepared for any situation.

3. Lighting & Timing

They say lighting makes a good or bad shot. You might want to utilize the early morning when the sun is just rising, and the dew is falling or the late evenings when the sun is setting, and the horizon takes up a golden colour.

Too much sun might cast shadows which aren’t good for the image. However, you can play around with the settings and aperture to narrow down to the right level of light required at that time of day.

Remember to respect the animals. Some places have rules against flash photography as it would spook the animals and scare them away or even worse. Respect these rules by using alternative means.

4. Focus on the Eyes

Whether taking human portraits or animals it is advisable to focus on the eyes. This makes the individual/animal pictured sharper in comparison to the surroundings. Yes, the animal is what you need a picture of, not the savannah in the background.

This allows you to have a clear image without zooming in so much on the animal of interest and makes the picture a little more professional.

5. Safety

On this same note, remember to keep a safe distance from the animals. You want to take an up-close image but still stay a safe distance, that is why I earlier advised (2) to carry a long lens.

This will allow you to have the picture as up close as possible, focused for a sharper image and at a safe enough distance.

5. Try Different Perspectives

Do not just sit in the comfort of your car because you have a long lens, you might still miss out on some amazing shots. Take community walks, and biking tours which will allow you to take pictures of the flora and fauna, views of the distant falls, rivers and lakes, the horizon at the top of the hills and the like. These are some things you won’t be able to capture from the car.

If you intend to capture the true African traditional spirit, culture and way of living, you will need to mingle with the people. Inquire with your tour agent on how to go about this aspect, not all communities take it lightly to be taken pictures of by strangers. That is why you need someone who understands people’s beliefs and cultures so well.

6. Get Accustomed To Your Cameras

Maybe you did not have a camera before this trip and decided to borrow one from a friend or buy one. Take a few days to get accustomed to it, take mock shots with animals at home or with your friends, ask for a small lesson and look up pointers and basic things.

If you are not a professional photographer, you need to get used to it before you set out in the wild. You could miss a few great shots fidgeting with the alien gadget and you won’t like it.

Yes, you will need amazing shots to show to your people at home or even frame up and hang in your house but remember to take time away from that and enjoy the experience. If you spend all the time with one eye on the less, you forget to relax and take in the beauty around you and the serenity of it all.

There are lots of websites and videos about photography on the internet that you will be able to learn about your camera.


Whether you want photos for professional use or your memories, the endeavour is worth it. You will have to remember to let go of the camera and be present. Be in the moment. You wouldn’t want to remember yourself taking pictures of gorillas or lions in Uganda. You want the picture to remind you of those animals, and their habitat as vividly as possible.

A nice strategy is to immerse yourself in the moment, and then take some pictures. Like time stamps of great moments.

Another reminder is to follow the rules. In some park situations, you might not be allowed to take certain kinds of pictures ( up close with lions, for example). This could be for safety reasons. Following the rules is for your good and everyone else’s good.

In the communities, it is better to ask people before taking pictures of their activity, or with them. Just ask before taking such pictures.

We recommend that you plan your Safari based on your interests. With that in mind, we have put together an article with some top places in Uganda that are popular for magnificent pictures.

If any of these places happen to be part of your itinerary, you will have a great time and great photos for the memory. Go here to read more about these top 15 Uganda Safari spots for photography.

While planning your safari, photos are not the only thing you worry about. You worry about things like staying under budget, buying souvenirs, how to deal with cash and what to pack. Our blog has a lot of information on all of these aspects of your safari. Just head there and explore it on your own.

And finally, share this article with your social media community so that they won’t have to dig through a Google search for good information anymore. Thank you and cheers!

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