Copyright Scott Bourne 2006 - All Rights Reserved

The more you know about your subject, the better your photographs will be. This is just a fact. Yet, most of the people who come to my seminars and workshops are what I’d call “Happy Accident Shooters.” They point their camera at something pretty, fire away, and may or may not get a good shot. When they don’t get a good shot, chances are that one of the culprits is simple lack of subject knowledge.

I spend a great deal of time photographing birds. The photo above wasn’t luck. I made it because I have studied birds, birding, bird behavior and bird biology for most of the last decade. While I still have much to learn, I can safely say I’ve immersed myself in my subject. I know what time of year the Great Blue Herons court each other. I know where they court each other. I know what time of day they court each other and I’ve studied their behavior enough that I can predict fairly closely precisely when they will do cool things like forming the shape of a heart with their heads and necks.

Harris Hawks hunt in packs. Eagles tend to lift their tail feathers right before they fly. In Fort Myers Beach, Florida, White Ibis are very tame. When you see them near Jacksonville they typically are not.

These are just a few examples of how immersing yourself in your subject can help you get the right shot at the right time.

Think about it. If I am going to be able to predict when I can get a good eagle in flight shot, shouldn’t you be able to predict the behavior of your subjects? If not – you need to spend less time dreaming of what your next lens purchase should be, and more time reading about, studying and interacting with your subjects.


Sponsored by PMA – It’s not too early to mark your calendar because this is big. For the first time in the USA, the PMA tradeshow and conference will be open to the general public – September 6-11, 2011 in Las Vegas. See you there –