How to View and Photograph Wildlife

Graphic showing correct viewing distance for small and large animals; text: "Sometimes the best relationship is a long-distance relationship"
Keeping a safe distance when viewing and photographing wildlife can benefit both you and the animal.
Many wildlife species can be found throughout the park. Explore our wildlife pages to find out what you can see.
When you spot wildlife, getting a great photo or video even from a distance isn’t too hard if you follow our advice. Although mobile device cameras are convenient, you may want to bring along a camera that has a zoom lens for better zoomed-in photos of wildlife.
A person balances a camera on their knees and takes a photo.
Use your zoom and pull your elbows close to you or rest them on your knee or another stable surface.
  • Time your outing when wildlife is active: dawn or dusk. These times also have some of the best lighting for photos!
  • Use binoculars, a spotting scope, or a telephoto lens for a safe, close-up view.
  • Stay quiet and still. Noise and quick movements can threaten wildlife.
  • Look to the edges of the landscape (e.g. where forest trees meet an open meadow).
  • Pull safely off the road, and use your car as an enclosure for viewing and photographing from a distance. Not only do cars provide a layer of protection, they also provide surfaces for stabilizing your camera.
  • Use your zoom, and to steady your shot, touch your elbows to your ribcage, or rest your elbows on your knee or another stable surface.
  • On your mobile device, you can zoom in by placing your thumb and forefinger together on the screen and then draw them apart just as you do to zoom in on a web page.
  • Watch wildlife with your eyes rather than through your viewfinder/screen as you move. It’s easy to miss things in your surroundings that could hurt or trip you when you’re only focused on what you can see on your screen or viewfinder.
  • When photographing from the safe distance, skilled photographers suggest lining up the horizon of the landscape along the lower third of your frame and lining up the animal(s) to one of the four intersection points as demonstrated below:
A repeated photo taken from a distance of an elk in a meadow, divided into ninths by green lines
Line up your subject along one of these four imaginary intersections for better-looking wildlife photos from a distance.
You’ve found your park, now find the safe distance from wildlife to capture great memories. Share your safe distance wildlife photos on social media with the tags: #FindYourDistance #GrandCanyon.

Last updated: June 13, 2019

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PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



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