Photographing nature and animals teaches me many lessons that I use in all aspects of my photography. Here are a few of the things that I have taken from my experiences that you can apply to your photography whether you're taking photos of your family at home or photos of tigers in the wilderness of India.
1. Even in the wild, good composition is the key to a good photograph. In the initial stages of composition, look for unwanted elements in the picture and avoid them.
2. That being said, don't be afraid to break the rules when appropriate. Learn the rules of composition and follow them most of the time. However, try breaking the rules and do the exact opposite. Sometimes that will result in the best photo.
3. With landscapes, remember that a nice wide shot will almost always provide a great photo.
4. While photographing people - either as a portrait or as pertaining to a certain activity they are involved in - tight framing will emphasize the subject matter better.
5. When you are doing a portrait of an individual or of a creature in the wild, a shallow depth of field will enhance the subject matter. Try using a longer focal length like 50mm or longer.
6. Take your time and do not rush a photo. When I'm in the jungle trying to capture images of tigers, I will sometimes wait for days before getting the shot I want. Remember that you do not have to take many photos. Try to get just one photo that will make people say "wow. " Keep in mind the famous quote: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
7. You do not have to be in Timbuktu to get good photos. Look around your backyard or the town you live in. You don't need to photograph the indigenous peoples of Chile to get great portraits; look to your kids or family. Regardless to the subject you choose, try to find some unusual angles to make the work interesting.
8. Try to capture a moment. Photography is about telling stories - what's yours? Avoid the stale, "look at the camera and say cheese" photo.
9. Like a tiger, be ready to pounce. Photographing nature has taught me to be nimble and quick in order to get the shot with a good composition. While I do recommend you don't rush a photo, remember that most of the time birds and animals will not wait for you to make your photo. You are at their mercy and on their schedule. Be quick and be ready.
Note: Photography courtesy of John Isaac; shot with Olympus E-System cameras.