Cuddly Wuddlies!

Brian Pettit - 20/11/2012

   One of the problems with photographing the young of many of our chosen wildlife subjects is that there will inevitably be some amongst them that will appear to be almost irresistibly "cute and cuddly". It is a common human failing to anthropomorphise many wild creatures and especially their young. How you feel towards them is of course, to them, a completely alien and unreciprocated sentiment. You cannot expect either them, or their no doubt doting parents, to share your enthusiasms. They will frequently respond to your approach and advances with a typical flight or fight reaction, or some combination of the two.

   Many young animals, however, especially those of predatory species which can be born with an ingrained feeling of superiority, will not be old enough to have developed a natural aversion to creatures such as yourself. Some may even, in fact, respond to your overtures with a seeming desire to interact with you. This is probably fine, up to a point, if you're working with rabbits, but many of the Big Cat species often come within this category.

   Several of the chapters in my book Wildlife Photography on a Budget are dedicated to convincing readers to "get up close" because that's where the best shots are to be found. However, when doing this with the young of species that can eat you, or even just give you a nasty suck, my advice is "Never forget Mum and Dad". There's no greater leveller than when, after a successful photographic session with a youngster that you are sure was facilitated because you convinced yourself that "it" loved you as much as you would like to love "it", you look over your shoulder and find the parents two feet behind you tossing a coin to see who gets first crack at your juicy bits!  

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