Top Ten Wildlife Photo Cliches of All Time

February 25, 2013  •  3 Comments

Is there anything more cliche than a Top Ten List?  Only if it's a Top Ten Cliche list, and here at Vermphoto we're all about raising the bar, so here goes with the Top Ten Wildlife Photo Cliches of All Time.

1  Mother Polar Bear with adorable cub

2  Any penguin

3  Bear catching salmon at waterfall

4  Hummingbird at flower

Bison in the snow at Yellowstone

6  Bald Eagle doing anything

7  Big cat staring into lens, bonus points if it's a cheetah with those emotive long black teardrops

8  Osprey with fish 

Red-eyed Tree Frog close-ups

10  Zebra stripe abstract

Wow, that took about two minutes to compile.  But what about Sandhill Crane in flight?  Why didn't Puffins make the list?  Snow monkeys in the hot springs?!?!?!?!?!!!!  Got more to add - please comment. 

Now onto the burning question as to why these are so cliche.  Because they work.  Year after year these subjects get more than their fair share of ink.  To double check my hastily compiled list I busted out the 2010 copy of Nature's Best on my desk.  Polar bear with cub and zebra stripe abstract right on the cover.  Bison in snow - Wildlife Winner. Bald Eagles - Bird Winner.  Cheetah staring into lens - check, and check again.  What only three bear-with-salmon pics?  Penguins - check, check, check.  No Red-eyed frogs, but the Geico gecko was doing a good imitation.  So all we're missing is the hummingbird at flower - replaced by a damn-that's-almost-too-good-to-be-real hummingbird with viper shot - killer. 

What about the Osprey with fish?  Grand Prize!

Naturally, I've done my best to get my own cliche prize-winners.  You'd think it would be easy, seeing as if you Google any of these subjects, you can find a workshop that will take you there, point you at the subject, and kaboom.  Well except for zebra stripe abstracts - no workshops for that exclusive subject, but no wonder, because the market is flooded.  First site listed in that Google search had over 3000 zebra stripe stock photos for sale.  But I digress, I figured this would be simple so I went out to get my own blue ribbon osprey-with-fish shot.  

Now the osprey emerging from the water with fish in talons shot would appear tricky to get. But if you watch ospreys you'll notice they hover before diving, allowing a good prefocus, then after they hit the water they are submerged for 10 seconds or so before emerging - plenty of time to focus on the splashing rippling entry point.  Just wait for them to reemerge and shoot.  So I've got it all figured out - I'll go to the local effluent ponds where the water bodies are narrow and I'll be sure to get plenty close to my subject. 

Sure enough the ospreys are there.  So here come a hungry one and hovers for me to get a bead on it.  Damn, it's going to dive behind those reeds.  I'll miss the emerging from the water shot, but I'll still get the flying away with the meal shot. 

Right on schedule, the osprey wings up above the reeds and flies past me.  Click, click, click, click.  Nailed it.

I get back home and start booking my tickets to the awards ceremony while my photos download.

In a few minutes, up come the photos.  There's my osprey-with-fish shot, sharp, well exposed and WTF??? 

Osprey with salamander 1

That fish has legs!  Osprey with Tiger Salamander, Kachina Wetlands, Northern Arizona.

Sometimes you just can't win. 


Snowy or other owl (usually a great grey) swooping toward the camera. These shots usually require the use of bait. And any wildlife image with a sunset behind it.
Seagull Steve(non-registered)
Osprey with ubersalamander...definitely not cliche. Pretty funny post though.

A few more bird photo of snow geese, chickadee/cardinal/downy woodpecker etc. with snowy background, bee eaters sitting in a row, (baited) Great Gray Owl looking intense or in flight about to kill something under snow.

Your blog is too advanced/not advanced enough for BB&B to get its feed, so rather than have it hang there looking like a dead link I'll give you a shout out sometime.
I think flying squirrel shots should be on that list.
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