Why You Should Use Commercial Photography Hides


The use of commercial photography hides can be a controversial subject amongst wildlife photographers. In this article, I discuss the pros of such hides and how they can help you photograph those more elusive animals.

In order to take a deep dive into the pros of commercial photography hides, we should first take a look at why these hides can be controversial among wildlife photographers and nature lovers. Baiting is one of the main reasons why photography hides can be frowned upon. Baiting is when food is used to attract wildlife. Often, this can be various foods such as seeds, meat and fish, depending on the target subject. The even more controversial part of baiting is live food, as this could harm the animal that you are wishing to attract.

Leaving food out for wildlife can allow the animal to become over-reliant on the food source and lose their natural instincts across generations. In London, for example, urban foxes have become too accustomed to going through bins or being fed by people in their back gardens. Of course, they will still hunt rodents, etc., but this practice has helped shape the bold nature of urban foxes in London and other cities to date.

When food is provided for a species, it is my belief that it should only ever be supplementary to the animal’s diet. This would be similar to having a bird feeder in your garden. The birds will enjoy the seeds and mealworms you leave out; however they should be actively seeking their usual food such as worms, insects, and berries.

So, after all that, what are the pros? 

It’s Quicker (Usually)

Paid wildlife photography hides offer their clients an opportunity to see a particular subject quicker than what you may see if you went looking for yourself. If you work full-time or have kids or other duties, you may not always have the time available to spend days upon end using field craft to find a species, let alone set up an environment fit for a fantastic composition.

For years, I struggled to find and photograph a Kingfisher. I would only ever catch brief glimpses, and no matter what I did, I could never get the images I wanted. After searching online for helpful information, I found a hide which offered the opportunity of seeing and photographing Kingfishers, so I decided to check it out, and within 30 minutes, a Kingfisher landed on a perch set up in front of the hide, only 4 or 5 meters away from me. For the rest of the day, the Kingfisher kept coming back, and I had the chance to use different perches in between visits so I could have a variation of images from my day. 

Another species I wanted to photograph was the Sparrowhawk. These are elusive birds of prey, and like Kingfishers, you may only ever catch a fleeting glimpse of one. I used the same company as above, as this was also another animal they advertised. I arrived at the hide at 7:30 am in the morning, ready to go. As the day progressed, we had a variety of woodland birds visit the hide, which allowed me to work on my settings and composition while I waited patiently for the star of the show.

Hours went by and still no sign of the Sparrowhawk, would I get to see it? Then, at almost 5 pm, after many hours in the hide and just before I was thinking about calling it a day and other customers had left the hide, the Sparrowhawk landed on a perch and helped itself to the dead bird that had been left for it. I was giddy with excitement at seeing this amazing bird and captured as many photos as I could in the five minutes it stayed for. It was a very long day for that brief encounter, but for me, the experience was worth it just to see this magnificent bird close up.

It’s Accessible

Not all photographers are fully fit and able to wander through harsh environments trying to track and photograph certain species, and not all locations are going to be wheelchair accessible, etc. Certain hides can be right next to a small parking area, allowing easy access for all customers. I have a condition known as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which causes havoc on my joints, and I’m not always able to climb over slippery rocks looking for otters in fear of hurting myself. However, at one hide, I was able to park right outside the hide door, and within an hour, I had a family of otters right in front of me, helping themselves to fish that had been left for them to eat. The otters were so close, I was shooting at no more than 200mm.

Practice Makes Perfect

Visiting hides isn’t just about photographing elusive species or accessibility. Hides also act as a great way of practicing photography, having an opportunity to test out your camera or new lens in a semi-controlled environment, and potentially meet new people, learning tips and tricks. Photography hides are often set up in the animals’ territory, e.g. for Kingfishers, the hide will be right next to a river. This means that not only should you see a Kingfisher, but you may see other species such as herons, egrets, and other creatures great and small. If you notice that your first images were soft or too underexposed, you may not have too long to wait before the next chance presents itself, and after a full day at a hide, you should have plenty of images to go through for your personal portfolio.


Paid hides certainly have significant benefits and also clearly have downsides in regards to baiting practices. These hides allow fantastic experiences for all levels of photographers and bring nature closer to you. They are an amazing day out for anyone interested in wildlife photography and you can use the hide as a tool, to practice, learn about new animals, and take that knowledge out into the field with you. I believe that an ethical and moral approach should be used by the owner of the hides, and often, those who run the hides are very passionate about the animals they are attracting. I will always recommend that should you wish to visit a hide, be sure to do your research. At the end of the day, the animals’ welfare is paramount over any image. When done correctly, these hides are brilliant.


Original Source Link

Leave a Reply