Practice Makes Perfect: Learn Photography From Seagulls

Most any professional photographer will tell you the three keys to growing your photography skills are:

  1. Practice
  2. Practice
  3. Practice


No, one through three is not a typo.  The best way to learn photography, get stronger compositions, master lighting, and get fast at choosing the best settings on your camera is to shoot often. While on a recent trip, a group of seagulls flying above me caught my attention.  Seagulls are opportunistic feeders.  They eat a variety of things based on what is available.

As a new photographer, or even a seasoned one, you can get better by photographing your surroundings.  Be opportunistic!

There are 50+ types of gulls around the world.  They vary in appearance and are most often times found near bodies of water, both salt and fresh water. In Michigan, we see them in mall parking lots, near beaches, on golf courses, in and near dumpsters. I saw seagulls in Alaska skimming the ocean remains of fish that whales pushed to the surface, and I’ve seen them in Australia, the Caribbean, etc…  The point is they are all over.  The one thing every gull has in common, it will do nearly anything for it’s next meal.

As a photographer, do what it takes to capture a great shot. Be hungry for your photos.

Since seagulls are found in so many places, I highly recommend you utilize them.  Do not take what is right in front of you for granted. If you want to practice taking shots of moving objects, such as birds, there’s no better way to start than with gulls.  They are plentiful, they are easy to find and they are not usually scared. If you want to photograph more interesting birds, this is a good place to begin.

As a photographer, next time you think, “ugh, those pesky seagulls are all over the place,” don’t complain. “Shoot” them instead. Try changing exposure modes, try shooting with different shutter speeds, adjust your aperture, try getting them upside down and in pairs.  Experiment with them.  They are here for you.

And remember to follow the seagull next time you are in the ocean…

You never know where they may lead you… Maybe to your next subject, a group of humpback whales bubble-net feeding.

Leave a comment and let us know what your best photography tip is. We’d love to hear from you.

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 3

    Suzie says

    No seagulls around here except in town, forty k’s away.

    However, dragonflies are numerous so I have been photographing them.
    Getting them in flight is a challenge but I am improving. I am actually getting passionate and obsessive about them.
    Here is one I took yesterday – turned out fine, but perhaps I should up my ISO (800).
    Thanks for the info above – enjoyed your comments.

  2. 4

    Amelia says

    You got it…..practice, practice, practice, It really is amazing how much better you get at caputring “the moment”. Gulls are such clean looking also, they are such a great contrast to the blue or the sky or water. Thanks for sharing


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