Can I take photographs of the gorillas? – Gorilla photography during gorilla tours

A gorilla trekking journey into the tropical bushes of Africa is an extraordinary journey that unfolds with awe-inspiring moments that you shouldn’t miss while on an African safari tour. During an encounter with mountain gorillas, you can live the moment, and feel the moment, but you will definitely need to capture the moment. The best way to capture your iconic moments with the mountain gorillas in the wild is by filming them or taking photographs. When preparing for a gorilla trekking tour, many travelers ask ‘‘Can I take photographs of the gorillas?’’ and a quick answer is Yes, you can definitely take photographs of the gorillas during your mountain gorilla trekking tour. Whether you are an avid photographer or curious traveler, Gorilla photography is permitted and you can take photographs of the gorillas during your gorilla trekking safari tour.

Photographing (shooting) mountain gorillas is perhaps one of the most thrilling typologies that draws us closer to the wild side of this unusual world. Not so many encounters in the world bring you face to face with wildlife like mountain gorilla trekking – the only way to make the experience last is to get the best capture. Photographing mountain gorillas in the wild can be done in an ethical way, respecting the gorilla habitat, and promoting gorilla conservation. Many of us have seen documentaries or photographs of mountain gorillas but never have we seen them live, as the wild adjective already portrays, gorilla photography is unpredictable. To have the best gorilla photographs at a technical and storytelling level on your gorilla photography safari tour, it requires patience and a lot of shots.

This complete gorilla photography guide is designed to help you understand the most important Gorilla photography information and how best you can prepare for your gorilla trekking tour – best gorilla photography equipment and recommended cameras for photographing mountain gorillas.


Ethical gorilla photography: Photography distance, minimized gorilla disturbance, and flashlights

Whether you are a seasoned photographer or a curious traveler, photographing mountain gorillas will unleash your imagination of the wild. The experience is really awe-inspiring, one you should include in your bucket list when visiting Africa. Although photographing mountain gorillas in the wild during gorilla trekking tours comes with excitement, it is always important to follow ethical guidelines while taking gorilla photographs. This helps to ensure both their well-being and the preservation of their natural habitat. This article aims at providing clarity on the gorilla photography guidelines, etiquette, and best practices for photography.

Essential gorilla photography practices to follow – Gorilla photography guidelines – Are there any specific guidelines or rules for taking photos of gorillas?

Maintaining a respectful distance

Maintaining a minimum distance while trekking gorillas is not only ethical but also an important guideline while trekking mountain gorillas. Photographers are required to maintain a minimum distance of about 7 meters from the gorillas. Maintaining this distance helps to avoid spreading communicable diseases to gorillas and the likelihood of their natural behaviors. While photographing gorillas, using a zoom lens can help you capture close-up shots without breaching the set minimum distance. This guideline does not only apply to photographers but generally to all trekkers.

Minimum disturbance

While trekking gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, you are required to minimize disturbance by keeping a low voice, staying in your group, maintaining limited movement while with gorillas, and to stay calm while with gorillas. To preserve gorillas and their natural habitat, it is best recommended to follow these guidelines while on a trek.

No flash photography is permitted

While planning a gorilla photography tour, it is important to know that flash photography is prohibited. The sudden burst of lights from a camera flash can startle and stress mountain gorillas and may make them agitated and aggressive. It is best recommended to disable the flash light function on your camera before you approach the gorillas. This is one of the strict rules to follow while doing gorilla photography in Uganda and Rwanda.

Following instructions

During the trek, you are advised to follow the guidelines that will be given to you by your ranger guide since they are in the better know of gorillas and their natural habitat. The ranger guide is assigned with the roles of ensuring your safety during the trek. He/she will direct you on how to move while in the presence of mountain gorillas, how to position yourself, and how to handle aggression from gorillas. Ranger guides are experienced and well-equipped to ensure your safety during the trek.


Best tips for Photographing gorillas during safaris – How to take the best gorilla photographs

  1. Get Low for the best Gorilla Shots

The secret to captivating gorilla photographs lies in capturing their raw essence – from their perspective. While taking gorilla photographs, position yourself as low to the ground as possible so as to get the best shots of these gentle giants. At times it may even necessitate you to sit down or kneel while photographing the gorillas.

It is best recommended to position yourself at eye level or lower to capture the gorillas’ genuine expressions and natural habitat with stunning scenery. Gorilla portraits taken at a low level give a raw expression of gorillas, their face, and the nearby surroundings.


  1. Use a Wide Aperture

For the best results, we recommend employing a wide aperture setting on your camera, such as f/2.8. This setting will help blur the background and foreground elements, such as leaves and vines, creating soft, colorful smudges and making your gorilla photos resonate with emotion and allure.

  1. Focus on Their Eyes for the best photos

While photographing gorillas on a gorilla trekking holiday, focus on the eyes. While with gorillas, slowly and gently direct your focus to the gorillas’ eyes, as they serve as the entry points of your photos. Sharp, well-focused eyes create a strong impact, while out-of-focus eyes diminish the desired effect making your gorilla photos less impactful.

The best shorts require enough light so it is recommended to focus on gorillas within areas with sunlight, illuminating their faces, ideally at a 45-degree angle. If you are looking for extraordinary photos look out for the interaction of light and shadow so as to capture their spirit with authenticity.


  1. Look out for the perfect backgrounds

When it comes to gorilla photography, the background of the gorillas is one of the few key factors to consider in order to capture the perfect shot. It is always important to focus on the subject using a harmonious environment to create a sense of balance and contrast with the background to highlight the gorilla’s presence. Portraits with a good background are likely to draw attention to and impression on the viewer.


  1. Use a Long Telephoto Lens – Can I use a telephoto lens or zoom lens for gorilla photography?

For high-quality gorilla photographs, having the right equipment can make all the difference. While packing your gear, make sure to carry a telephoto lens with you. The long telephoto lens allows you to capture detailed shots and eliminate distractions, making it perfect for capturing small or distant objects with precision. The shallow depth of field that a telephoto lens provides helps to create visually compelling images. You can blur out the background, you can focus on the subject, and draw the viewer’s attention to the details that matter most.

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