There she lay; just ten feet from the edge of the dock. How could I resist? A big alligator right there within reach of my action camera. I hit record and lay upon my belly, stretching my arm to full length, the camera is only inches from her snout. No doubt this would be some great, close-up gator footage! Then it happened. SNAP!!! Either she was really ticked off, or thought my camera was a free handout of food. No more camera.
Seems like a stupid idea to harass an alligator? Yes, it is. Perhaps my story is a bit of dramatization and the camera wasn’t actually eaten. But what if it were true? That was an expensive bite! Or what if it were your hand, rather than your camera that gets chomped by a big gator? But how many photographers push the limits trying to get that photo or video that will go viral? It does well to keep a clear mind and some common sense when in the field.
Wild animals are wild! Even if they seem to be laying nearby just begging for a photograph, wild animalsare not tame pets. Just search the internet for tourist deaths on safari and you’ll see nobody is exempt: a billionaire trampled by an elephant… a grandmother killed by a hippopotamus… These “accidents” don’t only take place with “dumb tourists.” A few years ago, a professional graphic effects creator filming a documentary in South Africa was killed as she rolled down her windows to capture close-up footage of a lioness… a bit too close up!
As photographers, we can become totally absorbed in our craft and forget about our own safety. Or, we might compromise our own safety to push the limits to get that viral footage. But in the end it isn’t worth it if you lose your life or lose a limb. So keep your mind focused on your surroundings and use some common sense!
iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30719132