Tiger Photography Essentials

by pateluday

Tiger is the most enigmatic creature on Earth. Bestowed with unbridled charisma, beauty, and grace the predator mesmerizes on sight. No wonder photographers prize it...

Tiger photography is a holistic science since the animal is not a still embellishment of the dense jungles in India. Much more goes into art than just a camera and lens. Devotion and passion for the art of photography are good but to capture the big cat in the wilds requires much more. Find here the absolute essentials that are a prerequisite for a successful photoshoot in the tiger reserves of India.

Uday Patel is a naturalist and animal tracker primarily involved in assisting avid photographers to film and photograph the majestic beast in its natural confines.

Male Tiger

Kanha National PArk
Munna Male Tiger
Munna Male Tiger
John Leon Canada

Tiger Photography Guide

Sudhir Shivaraman

Tiger Photography Planning


Jeep Safari PhotoThe first step you take whence you plan to photograph tigers in the wild is to chalk out a perfect destination in India. Well to be honest there is more than one destination. Find the small list below:

  • Kanha National Park 
  • Bandhavgah National Park
  • Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve
  • Tadoba Tiger Reserve
  • Corbett Tiger Reserve 
  • Pench Tiger Reserve

These are the places where you can experience a successful photoshoot since big cats are in plenty. But in spite of the above rating being excellent...I would advise visiting at least two destinations on the tour. This will increase the chance of coming across the predators in photogenic circumstances. Another benefit of choosing the right destination is to chance upon other rare species. Like those with enthusiasm for birds should visit Corbett for the big cat photoshoot. For swamp deer and bison, I would definitely choose Kanha and so on..   

When planning a trip you need to consider proximity as well hence Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench are well connected and thus offer ease of traveling and reduce the cost. They can easily be accessed through Jabalpur Airport in Central India or Madhya Pradesh. 

There is no danger to self in and around all these reserves hence it is not an issue. 

The tourism infrastructure at all these destinations is excellent so that is not an issue. The approach roads or highways are in good condition and people everywhere are nice. Therefore tiger safari norms at all the place are nearly the same. 

At Corbett to search for the tigers you need to spend at least two nights at Dhikala Complex or nearby rest houses with basic accommodations but in excellent locations.  

You can discover more about these destinations on the Internet and make you decisions taking into account a number of factors.  

Top Wildlife Places in India

Wildlife tourism in India is booming. The rare animals survive in protected areas. These are hubs of immense biodiversity hence attract tourists from all over the World.

Leopard Photo

Big Cat Image
Panther Cub
Panther Cub

Park Permissions

Safari Rules & Regulations

When you are on a photographic mission to capture images of wild beasts in tiger reserves in India you are bound by rules and regulations. These are set by Project Tiger body the NTCA in consultation with the Supreme Court of India. Some deviations are made locally at each reserve within their purview. 

First of all, you need a permit to enter the parks and these are booked online. If you are making the expedition through an agent he should book the permits as per your schedule. The tour operator will book your safaris in the prime zone usually in consultation with their naturalist familiar with the destination. Once the permits are booked your safaris in the park are assured, and you can travel happily. The accommodations, local travel formalities are taken care of by the operator. 

The rules applicable are the same for all tourists but if you wish for special permission then you have to contact the MOEF Ministry and the State PCCF or Wildlife Warden. But special permissions like night filming. entry into the park at odd timings or off-road activities etc are permissible if the MOEF and PCCF allow. Such permissions are sought by major wildlife documentary makers. 

Tiger photography is perfectly feasible with the confines of rules and regulations hence no extra permissions should be sought.        

Red Eye Tiger

Big Cat Tour
Red Eye Tiger
Red Eye Tiger
Anshuman Singh

Safari Arrangements

Jeep Safari

Jeep safaris are organized in the reserves and these are available locally. You can go for a safari on the registered vehicles as private vehicles are not allowed in almost all of the reserves. 

The jeeps are accompanied by a forest guide which is compulsory, and the seating capacity is limited to six visitors. 

For enhancing your experience and tracking tigers effectively you will need the help of a naturalist usually at the service of the hotel you are staying at. Though some of the forest guides are good, the naturalist is a more reliable help with enhanced knowledge of the ecosystem and the ability to track the big cats. He or she may have a working knowledge of photography as well and guide you in the efforts. The naturalist can be a factor for big success. 

The park rides are bumpy and animals may surprise you so be in communication with the driver ...and he should know when to stop. Basic English is understood by all in India and that should help.

Prior to entry in the park, your passport will be checked each and every time while the locals will have to show their photo identity. Hence always carry them. 

Minor arrangements can be made on the jeeps for aiding you in camera operations. 

Carry minimum equipment to save space and increase maneuverability. Long lenses are not at all required in most of the parks. The flashlight is also banned so be light. But do carry binoculars.    

Jeeps carry breakfast and water for the morning ride as supplied by your hotel. Usually, you are required to carry your own water supply.   

Tiger in Pool

Tigress Bathing at Kanha National Park

Accommodations & Travel


Tented ResortDo not hesitate on good hotels and sound travel these will matter as well in the success of your expedition. The photo expeditions are taxing like anywhere and you will need a lot of rest and good healthy food all the time. 

Please discuss all aspects of the tour with the operator in detail. Read about the destinations, wildlife, and birds before you arrive. Be in touch with the weather conditions during the period of your travel and keep clothes accordingly. 

Keep all essential commodities especially medicines with you hence purchase them in the first big town in your travel. In remote areas banking may be poor so carry cash as much as you can.  

Video Male Tiger

Kanha National Park

The Package Tour

Photography Expeditions

Planned well in advance success is bound to come. Please keep your equipment in working condition as you will be in remote surroundings with no maintenance facilities. Carry extra memory cards. 

The expedition for the tiger photoshoot should be at least a fortnight. This will accord ample opportunities for capturing the best images. Choose the season as per your preference although the big cat sightings are greater in hot summers the landscape is devoid of greenery.  Hence it is up to you as to what panoramic settings you desire.     

Updated: 07/12/2021, pateluday
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pateluday on 12/28/2019

Dear Friend
Thanks for the appreciation.

There are around five hundred species of birds at Corbett and the number increases due to altitude migration. There is a bog list of birds you would see the targeted species are Ibis Bill, Little Forktail, Great Hornbill, Greater Woodpecker just a few to name here. You will enjoy both mammals and birds at that picturesque destination at Himalayan Foothills in Nainital District of Uttrakhand State.

DerdriuMarriner on 12/27/2019

pateluday, Thank you for the photos and practicalities.
All the photos are role models for how to take tiger pictures, even though I particularly like the red eye tiger and the tiger in the pool since they respectively demonstrate how individual and intricate are each tiger's markings and how splendidly they move.
What birds might one see in Corbett?

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