Galapagos Islands Photography: Top Tips

Galapagos Islands photography

The Galapagos Islands are a photographer's dream. The dramatic amount of wildlife on offer gives photographers the chance to get some epic shots. So, to help you make the most of your trip or cruise, we have put together this Galapagos photography guide. 

Unlike anywhere else on earth, the animals of the Galapagos are unafraid of humans. They are quite literally disinterested and will generally ignore you. This make the Galapagos the perfect target for wildlife photographers who want to get close to their subjects.

The islands are also ideal for landscape photographers wanting to add some wildlife into their shots. This makes a standard landscape shot really come to life and gives the picture an extra layer of complexity.   

Below we share our top tips for your Galapagos photography trip. 

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Galapagos Photography: Top Tips

Show scale in your shots

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It's all very well getting a lovely shot of a whale, shark or dolphin underwater. However, when you're photographing huge creatures, it's always good to give viewers a sense of scale. This really helps put the animal into perspective and gives the photo that wow factor.

The best way is to give viewers a reference point that they understand. Boats and humans generally offer the best reference points for size. 

Bring loads of memory cards

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It may sound obvious to bring extra memory cards, but it's funny how many people get caught out in the Galapagos. The reason why people get caught out is because they're not expecting so many photo opportunities.

There is wildlife literally EVERYWHERE and you'll shoot 500 shots within the first 10 minutes if you're not careful. On a single beach walk you're likely to see pelicans, iguanas, seals, crabs, frigate birds, and much more - all within easy photo distance! So bring more memory cards than you think is necessary. 

Wait for the classic poses

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The classics are always the best. If there's one thing you can guarantee, the wildlife will eventually pose in their trademark positions. However, you can't guarantee how long this will take and often some patience will be required.

The shot above demonstrates a classic pose made by the blue-footed booby when it is doing its mating dance. Seals with their mouths wide open are great, as are male frigate birds when they inflate their red neck pouch

Use the good light

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The Galapagos Islands are blessed with year-round good weather. Because of this, the light is really good, especially in the golden hours. During the day you can really push the shutter speed high to get those crisp images in the bright light. 

The photo above is a good example of a photographer using the light well. By photographing the flamingo in front of a dark background, the flamingo really pops. This image has been edited in post to bring down the blacks and shadows in the background. The final result is really nice. 

Bring those filters

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As we mentioned above, the light is very good (and bright) in the islands here. However, because of this, you'll need a couple of filters to get the best shots possible. We seriously suggest bringing a UV filter and a polarising filter. 

A UV filter will not only protect the lens, but reduce the ultraviolet rays. A polariser on the other hand will reduce the glare you get when photographing in bright light. It will also stop bright reflections such as the surface of the sea. Ideal when you take a Galapagos cruise.  

Try different angles

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If you said you wanted a shot of the back of a frigate bird, most people would think that was a bit odd. However, as the photo above proves, trying out different angles can really work. 

The best thing to remember when photographing wildlife in the Galapagos is to get down on their level. Shots that look down on their subject usually don't work. Don't be afraid to lie down, get a bit dirty, and get the winning shot! 

Photos from a kayak or zodiac

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Almost all Galapagos cruises include kayaking and zodiac trips. These trips allow you to explore places your ship can't reach. This makes them ideal for photography. However, it will be bumpy and you'll need to combat this.

The first thing to do is up the shutter speed so the movement doesn't effect the shot. You'll need good light for this, but your bound to get it in the Galapagos. The second thing to do is shoot as wide as possible so that you can crop in post. You'll struggle to frame anything properly in a kayak, so shoot wide and give yourself space. 

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.


If you have any queries or questions regarding our Galapagos photography tips, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

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