Taking Trophy Photos To Be Proud Of It used to be a big hassle to bring a camera to the field with you when going deer hunting. Now most of us either have a digital camera or a cell phone that takes photos and some of those take pretty decent ones at that. Some take pics to show friends and family and some even document their kills for a scrapbook that they have started for their trophy animals that they have taken over their lifetime. Trophy animals aren't always that 170 inch 10 point buck that we all hope to get but it could be that little forkie that Junior took on opening day of the Youth Season. Trophies come in all sizes and should be documented with photos that you can be proud to show to anyone. Taking Trophy Photos To Be Proud Of ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ By: Matt Mickey You finally have that animal you dreamt of all season, that animal you work so hard for.......it may very well be an animal of a lifetime in your hands! What you do next will decide how well that memory will be replayed and preserved for years to come. You've all seen them.........and if you don't hate them I'd be shocked. You know what I'm talking about : tongue hanging out, laying lifeless in the back of a pick-up truck, or the absolute most horrible of them all (Insert Psycho Shower Scene Music here)........hanging by its neck from the garage rafters!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhh!! What are you doing?!? A little forethought, a small amount of time, and some creativity will help you to take pictures that you will be proud to show anyone. Photos that will do the moment justice and above all else, honor the spirit of the animal you just harvested. I won't call these the definitive guidelines for how to take pictures (I am definitely not a professional photographer) but you can rest assured that if you eliminate most of the things you shouldn't do, the chances are you will be much happier when you get your photos back. 1. Ok I know we're not all rich and cameras are expensive, plain and simple. But we have options! You can get as crazy as you want, or you can get by with some simple and inexpensive disposable options, as long as you have something! The main point to remember is this - the best pictures are those taken on the spot, in the woods and fields where the animal lived and died. Not only do they add much needed scenery to a picture but they also help to tell the story. So a camera you won't be afraid to take into the woods is mandatory for these situations. Several factors will determine what and how to take your trophy shots. If you have a buddy to help take the pictures you can keep a decent disposable camera in your day pack. They take up very little space and weigh next to nothing. Obviously if you are by yourself you'll need a "real" camera with an automatic shutter feature. Use a log, a big rock, your pack, or whatever you can find as a makeshift tri-pod. I've taken some of my best pictures exactly like this. In any event do your best to have a camera, with a flash, handy (or at least a short walk away at your vehicle). 2. Don't be afraid to take a bunch of pictures. You'll know if you've taken enough when your hunting buddy starts to complain or calls you "Miss America". Whatever you do don't stop after one or 2 pictures. I have seen too many instances where 24 pictures are taken and maybe 1 or 2 turn out exceptionally well. 3. Posing the animal is sort of an art form in itself. You want the animal to look tasteful and quite frankly, alive. Try to avoid the "overhead airplane shots". Have your buddy get down eye level, get close, go far away, look straight on, look quartering away, hunter sitting, hunting kneeling, hold it this way, hold it that way. Basically be creative! Check out the poses in the hunting magazines. Find one you really like, remember it, and try to duplicate it with your own animal. 4. Compose the picture. Think about what is behind the shot and how it will play into the picture. If there is a nice bit of early morning sun hitting the forest floor only a few feet away, by all means get the animal into it. If there is a particularly nice tree or piece of scenery get it in the picture. Remove all foreign debris like twigs, weeds, etc from sticking up in front of the shot. There's nothing worse than getting the pictures back and the camera focused on and flashed out a big fat weed a foot from the lens! 5. Take the pictures before the animal is dressed, it will look fuller and more alive. 6. Wipe off all visible blood, stick the tongue back in and for goodness sake if the arrow is still in the animal remove it!. I know some of you are thinking " I'm not going to worry about what other people think". Well frankly, you should. Being able to proudly show a non-hunter a tasteful photograph showing how proud you are of that animal and how you are honoring the animal will go a lot farther than a bloody deer hanging from it's neck I can guarantee you that! A little Windex or water sprayed around the mouth will make a much cleaner looking picture. 7. SMILE!!!!! You are having a good time, you're not getting your picture taken for "Soldier of Fortune" magazine. Loosen up a bit and smile for the camera. 8. Get the hat out of your eyes. Yeah we want to see you too! Use your flash to remove that shadow under the bill of your cap. 9. Make sure that you get the bow, or your weapon of choice, in the picture. Again it helps to tell the story and make for good memories. 10. Put something solid under the deer's chest cavity to prop it up a bit.......this will give a much fuller looking animal. When an animal is lying down you don't realize it but it is on a very near parallel angle to the ground. Bringing the chest up and out a bit will do wonders. Also try tucking the legs into a bedded position under the animal. This helps to add an additional measure of livlihood to your trophy. 11. Smooth back any out of place hairs. You can use your hand and some water to take care of any pesky hairs that were ruffled while moving your trophy into position for the photo.. 12. Use your flash to fill shadows. Even if you think its light enough already make sure you take a few photos using the flash. 13. Get close! Many times I've seen people think that they are going to get what they see in that viewfinder and they wind up with a picture that looks much farther away. Don't be afraid to take some shots from "too close". After all, it is a photo - we want to see what's in it! 14. Digital Cameras are great. As technology gets better and better you are starting to see prices on very good cameras come down considerably. There's nothing like the instant gratification and feedback of a digital camera to ensure you're getting the best shots you can. If you don't like a shot, simply erase it and try again. If you go this route, remember to save the pictures to a disc! If your hard drive crashes, you may loose all of your photos. Also, try printing a few out as well. This way you can still take them to work and show your buddies. 15. The animal is not a carnival ride so don't even dream of sitting on it's back! This even looks tacky for the truly big animals like Elk and Moose. 16. Don't stretch your arms out to the camera to make your 13" 8pt look like the "Jordan Buck"! Nobody is buying it and we want to see the true animal! 17. Pick-up beds are a big pet peeve of mine, especially since most of the time it involves just the animal looking very dead. Or since there is no room you wind up with "Joe Hunter" riding bareback. I find no excuse for this one except a lack of truly caring or just being lazy. If you can't get the animal's picture taken in the woods that's understandable. What you should do is drive to a park, a friends house, or anywhere you can think of to get a good photo - just make it look like a natural setting, Remember the above tips and do your best to make it look lifelike. And no, the garage floor next to the can of kerosene and your spare tire doesn't count! 18. Get your hunting partner in the picture! He's your buddy, granted he's now your jealous buddy, but your buddy nonetheless. When the two of you relive your successful hunt though the pictures they will mean much more to both of you. 19. Pass it down. Sorry to remind everyone, but we are all going to pass onto the big hunting ground in the sky someday. Leave something behind for your kids to show your love of the sport in a way they will be proud of is one of the greatest things you can do as a parent. Is there anything better than to imagine your grandkids sitting around a fireplace paging through Grandpa's old hunting album and remembering the hunts and the man behind them? I know this isn't the bible of how hunting pictures should be taken, and it's not meant to be. Like I said, I don't know many of the technical aspects of photography but these tips will certainly put everyone on the right track. What I want everyone to do, no - what I challenge everyone to do is to get a camera (again doesn't need to cost more than your bow!), and use that camera to take the best pictures that they are capable of. Pictures to be proud of, to look at again and again with a smile, and above all else to honor the animal. So....take that photo and post it up here on Missouriwhitetails.com for all of us to enjoy!