Whenever I go into the local sporting goods store, I see pictures of "trophies" that make me cringe. Some are just bad photographs - I can take these - but some are so sloppy and disrespectful to the animals, I want to rip them off the wall. Not only do they make the animals look bad, but they really put hunters in a bad light.
So, as we get started hunting this season, here are a few suggestions for taking good trophy photos:
1. Take pictures before you gut the animal if possible.
2. Clean blood off the animal.
3. Compose your shot so that the animal is in an attractive position.
4. Try to have a solid background (sky, snow, etc.) behind the antlers to avoid losing them in a cluttered one.
5. If you have someone else take the shot, have them move in close enough so that you and the animal fill the frame. Save the landscape shots for another time.
6. Get the sun on the back of the picture taker. Be careful about where shadows fall (hunting cap rims are real offenders). If possible, get your animal either completely in the sun or completely in shade. Use "fill-in flash" for some of your shots. You'd be surprised how much this helps.
7. SMILE! Too many hunters pose with stupid-looking frowns and scowls
on their faces. Be happy and proud of your acheivement... and show it!
8. And please, if you do nothing else, don't ever intentionally set up a picture that shows disrespect for the animal. Remember, you can be just as unethical with a camera shot as with a rifle shot.
Here's a shot of a nice Montana whitetail buck I shot last year. It was about 7 a.m. and I used a flash. This shot was taken before I gutted the deer, but I had to move him away from the bloody snow where he had fallen. Also, after being shot head-on and directly through the heart, this buck ran about 30 yards before crashing nose-first into the tree in the background (you can see where the impact knocked the bark off the tree). I hadn't noticed, but he had broken his nose and jaw when he crashed, and, in the first picture, they were hanging down and looking pretty bad, so you can see how I solved this problem. I had my buddy kneel where I am and hold the deer up while I set up the shot so that everything looked good; then we switched places. This photo might have been a somwhat better if I had moved a little to my right so the antlers would have had the snow for a background. I didn't have to remember to smile on this one. Hell, I was smiling for about a week after!
Good luck, good hunting, and let's see those photos.