So, you finally killed that buck you have been chasing- congrats! Now the work begins, but before you get too busy field dressing and processing your deer you should take a few extra minutes to take some quality trophy shots. It’s important to realize that moments like these do not come around very often, so you should savor them and document them in a way that will let you remember them for decades. Here are a few tips to help you improve your trophy photos.
Clean It Up
One of the worst things we can do is portray our sport in a bad light to the non-hunting public; unfortunately, I see this all too often through bloody, shot up, tailgate-riding deer photos. This lack of care and respect for the game we pursue has the potential to turn otherwise neutral people into anti-hunters that use our bloody photos as fuel to attack hunters. Instead, take an extra minute before you begin snapping photos to clean up your deer with a rag or disposable towel. You probably already have some extra toilet paper in your pack, so pull it out, wipe off the deer’s snout, and tuck its tongue back in its mouth. Prop it up in a natural pose with its legs tucked under its body and any large wound facing away from the camera. Sit down next to it and hold its head up and smile!
Know Your Equipment
Running a smartphone camera is pretty simple, just point and shoot. However, if you have a professional SLR camera, taking time to learn how to run it with manual exposure adjustments will allow you to greatly improve the quality of your photos by making the most out of the light available to you. Knowing how to set a timer is also vital to taking trophy photos if you do not have a buddy with you , and investing in a quality camera tripod/tree mount will allow you to adjust the angle of your photos for the perfect shot. If you don’t want to carry an extra piece of equipment, you can opt for the cheaper and lighter method of using your hunting pack as a camera prop.
Use The Light
Lack of quality lighting is probably the number one reason that people fail to get good quality trophy photos. Knowing how to adjust exposure is important, but being able to manipulate the amount of light on the scene is just as important both after dark and during the day. At night this can be as simple as turning on your flash and/or using a flood light or other alternate light source to light up the scene. During the day, having too much sunlight can sink photo quality, leading to bright spots and dark shadows that draw away from the important stuff, the trophy and you. In this case, keeping a small reflector disk in your truck can save your photo. Use it as a reflector propped up on the ground just in front of you and the deer to prop light up on the underside of your ballcap and chin. Otherwise, you can take the outside reflective sleeve off and have a buddy hold it overhead to soften direct sunlight and eliminate bright spots.
Using these tips you can give your trophy photos a professional look and improve the image that you portray to the non-hunting public. Running images through Adobe Lightroom or another image editing software can also add an air of professionalism to your photos and will allow you to fix some lighting issues that may be unavoidable while hunting deep in the backcountry. Good luck, and I hope for many new hunting memory photos for you in the future!