Wildlife Photography

Explore the challenges of capturing images of avian wildlife & learn specific photographic techniques

Learn From An Expert

This intensive workshop offers those interested in wildlife photography the opportunity to learn directly from someone with first-hand experience in the photography of live birds of prey. Chris Smith has worked with the Center for many years and has taken tens of thousands of images of the Center’s resident birds. With his thoughtful instruction, Chris helps attendees explore the challenges of capturing images of avian wildlife and assists in gaining a better understanding of the use of specific photographic techniques.

More About the Program

Both 1/2 and Full-day participants will enjoy refreshments upon arrival, instruction in Camera Setup and Use of Technical Controls as well as a 3-hour instructor-led experience photographing live birds of prey. Throughout this process, Chris will provide personalized guidance to help photographers learn new skills and techniques. 15 different species of birds of prey from around the world will be utilized to illustrate various photographic techniques such as creating contrast and contour, freezing the action, continuous focus vs. single focus, and use of purposeful motion blur.

Those who attend the full-day program will also receive lunch and training on how best to select and edit your images in Adobe Lightroom. An optional behind-the-scenes tour of the Avian Medical Clinic and South Carolina Oiled Bird Treatment Facility will also be offered to full-day attendees.


Space is limited for this special program so that the experience is optimized for all attendees. We are offering 12 spots for the full-day program and 13 for the 1/2-day program.



Frequently Asked Questions

Plan on bringing all your gear. You can leave some of it secured in your vehicle. It’s better to be able to run back to your car to grab something than to wish you hadn’t left it on your kitchen counter. We recommend a full-frame or crop-sensor DSLR. However, a nice point-and-shoot with a good telephoto works fine. And of course, if you’re still shooting film, that’s great too.

As with most wildlife photography, we will be working with telephoto lenses. However, you don’t have to have a huge bazooka because our wildlife will be working WITH us, not flying away from us. A telephoto in the 70-200 range is recommended. A longer focal length like a 300mm or 400mm is great. And of course, the popular new super telephoto zooms like the Nikkor 200-500 or Sigma 150-600 is an excellent choice. A macro lens in the 100mm range would be good to have for nice portraits and close-up details. If you have a flash and would like some tips and pointers on using that with wildlife, bring it. For heavier lenses like a 400mm f2.8, you’ll want a sturdy tripod and a gimbal head. But if your rig is light enough to hand-hold, or to use on a monopod, you don’t need a tripod.

No. You can follow along with the instructor as he culls and edits images on the projection screen. But of course, this is a hands-on learning experience. If you have a laptop with Lightroom installed, go ahead and bring it so that you can start working on your images and get personal advice if you want it.

15 different avian species will be presented during this session. Chris will use specific species to illustrate a variety of photographic techniques, such as:

  • Working with natural light
  • Incorporating flash
  • Understanding exposure
  • Finding the background
  • Determining depth of field
  • Creating contrast and contour
  • Continuous focus vs single focus
  • Back-button auto-focus
  • Freezing the action
  • Poetry in motion (purposeful motion blur)
  • Wildlife portraiture

Anyone old enough to be serious about photography and capable of following instruction is welcome. However, there is no discounted rate for youth. If you and your child share a common passion for photography, this may be a good bonding experience you can do together.

Not this time. In order to ensure that Chris is able to work closely with all attendees, it is important that we limit the number of participants to only those seeking instruction.

Yes. We are non-discriminatory and welcome any type of imaging device. In fact, many birders capture excellent photos by shooting with their smartphone held tightly against a spotting scope or their binoculars. However, to get the most out of this experience, an SLR with manual controls is recommended.

Yes. This is a photography workshop, but many modern cameras have the capability of shooting excellent 4K video. You are certainly welcome to capture images as you wish, whether they be still-frames or motion-pictures.

From Charleston, take US Highway 17 north approximately 16 miles to the entrance located on the right at 4719 Highway 17N in Awendaw, SC.

From Myrtle Beach, head south on Highway 17 approximately 78 miles. The entrance will be on your left.

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Charleston NE Mt Pleasant US17 located at 1104 Stockade Lane in Mt. Pleasant is just a few miles south of the Center. Mention your visit and you should receive a 20% discount on your room rate.

As space is limited for this special program, all reservations must be made in advance. Contact the Center’s Administrative Office Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 843.971.7474 ext. 0 with questions about reservations.

Yes. In case of rain, we have an exciting backup plan in place. Instead of photographing birds in flight, your instructor will be setting up a professional on-location studio. This will be a rare opportunity for everyone to capture unique and amazing images of these creatures in a studio environment. We will still discuss and learn all about lighting, exposure, focusing techniques, and so on, but the flavor of the instruction will shift to a more static indoor setting. So, in the instance of rain, we will not cancel the program, but instead, we will REALLY get up close and personal with these majestic birds of prey!

Cancellations will only be considered if requested at least one month prior to the program. We will accept canceled reservations only if we are able to resell your spot.