The best wildlife photography books
Take a closer look at the animals and plants that inhabit our world, with our picks of the best wildlife photography books.
If you would like to see pandas at play in their natural habitat, follow penguins through Antarctica, or discover the cultural impact of the Alaskan salmon, these stunning collections will give you a gorgeous glimpse into a wide array of wild animals and their surroundings.
From talented amateur photographers to experts with decades of experience, each book in our list features some of the most striking images that will bring the wildest animals right in front of your eyes.
We’ve made sure to include some books that donate portions of their profits to conservation projects, so you can help contribute to these efforts while enjoying some of the most beautiful wildlife photography from around the world.
For more book recommendations you can check out our list of books on insects and invertebrates and our pick of wildlife and nature books for children and teenagers.
Best wildlife photography books to read in 2023
The Secret Life of the Otter, by Andy Howard
Andy Howard must spend a not inconsiderable amount of time smelling of seaweed, judging from the stunning images gathered in this photo book. Most are close-up, long-lens photographs taken while lying prone in the squelchy kelp beds that line the shores of north-west Scotland and its many islands. This ever-changing zone, which Howard calls the “intertidal café”, offers rich pickings for otter and photographer alike. We see whiskery otters with slicked-back fur devouring octopus, crabs and various fish, including an enormous conger eel. Cubs cavort among the surf, adults battle over territory, families snooze peacefully after feasting. There’s seldom-seen behaviour, too, such as a rare photo of a dog otter wrapped in a mating embrace with a bitch, jaws clamped uncomfortably tight around her neck.
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Another image shows a torpedo-like otter surging towards the camera just below the surface, with glistening air bubbles rising around it. Occasional photographs of other coastal megafauna, from white-tailed eagles to harbour seals, add variety to the book. However, a few more landscapes and shots of otter field signs would have helped to put the wildlife and behaviour in context.
Like its predecessors, The Secret Life of the Mountain Hare (2018) and The Secret Life of the Cairngorms (2019), this handsomely produced volume has only sparse captions. But that does at least allow the photographs to do the talking. The beauty of the otter speaks for itself. Above all, this is a book for gifting, perhaps as a souvenir of a trip to the Highlands or as a sly suggestion to a friend or partner that it’s high time one was booked.
Reviewed by Ben Hoare, BBC Wildlife editorial consultant
View a selection of images from The Secret Life of the Otter in our online gallery.
Remembering African Wild Dogs: 6, by Wildlife Photographers United
The latest addition to the Remembering series, this volume is bursting with breathtaking images of ‘painted wolves’. The photographs have been donated by 80 of the world’s best wildlife photographers, and the book aims to raise awareness of the plight of these endangered canids.
View galleries from the Remembering Wildlife series:
Birds, by Tim Flach
This is the latest tome from renowned British photographer Tim Flach. Like his previous books –Equus, Dogs and Endangered among them – Birds is a stunning visual study of its chosen subject. And like those previous volumes, it showcases the astonishing range of beauty displayed by the compelling mix of species that find their way in front of his camera.
Using a combination of field and studio photography, Flach brings a dazzling array of avians to the page, including toucans, swans, macaws and puffins, and makes each a star in its own right. Whether it’s through the magnificent colours and textures of their plumage, the shape of their beaks, the size of their eggs, or their preference for land, sea or air, the distinctive characteristics that define each bird are given ample opportunity to shine.
Background information to the images in each chapter is provided by Richard O Prum, the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology at Yale University. But as much as his detailed text helps, it’s the startling images that make this book difficult to put down.
View a selection of images from Birds in our online gallery.
New on Earth: Baby Animals in the Wild, by Suzie Eszterhas
Photographer Suzie Eszterhas has spent twenty years taking stunning snapshots of wild animals, particularly focusing on endangered species. Her 2021 collection of work New on Earth: Baby Animals in the Wild brings together some of her most beautiful images of young animals, ranging from tiger and brown bear cubs, to baby cheetahs finding their feed on the African savanna.
As 30% of all proceeds go towards the World Conservation network you can simultaneously enjoy the magnificent images while helping fund wildlife conservation efforts.
View more images by Suzi Eszterhas:
Bird Photographer of the Year: Collection 6, by Bird Photographer of the Year
This stunning collection of avian images is the result of a photography competition where participants put forward their best bird shots. The large book is made up of both amateur and professional photography that capture the beauty of the birds, with a foreword from notable birdwatcher Bill Bailey.
The book features short-listed images from the sixth year of the bird photographer competition as well as the winning shot, with a portion of profits going towards the Birds on the Brink charity to help with their conservation efforts.
Hill and Dale: My Shropshire Year, by Andrew Fusek Peters
Immerse yourself in the diverse Shropshire wildlife with this collection of photography by Andrew Fusek Peters. Explore the inhabitants of the dales throughout the different seasons of the year, from close ups of insects and birds, to wide shots of beautiful landscapes with 200 pages that are sure to keep you engrossed.
Alongside the images you’ll find commentary that will provide a deeper insight into the images which display everything from otters and foxes, to butterflies and bees.
View a selection of images from Hill & Dale and from Peters' Upland book in our online galleries .
Penguin: A Story of Survival, by Stefan Christmann
Christmann’s sumptuous offering is more than just a collection of incredible award winning photographs. We also get touching, first-hand witness accounts of the daily trials of an emperor penguin colony from the German-born physicist-turned-nature photographer and film-maker.
The stage is set during ‘overwintering’ in Antarctica, as the colony work through a year of hardship in order to successfully raise their young. The book balances impossibly cute images of downy little chicks with heartbreaking shots of youngsters and a ‘crèche guardian’ that have fallen down into a snow gulley and perished.
The human impact is not forgotten here, with the recognition that it is climate change, and an early melting of the sea-ice, that has led to an increase in this kind of tragedy.
But the real triumph of the work is highlighting the role photography plays in research, with the capturing of intimate moments unknown to science – such as the adults spotted feeding chicks that aren’t their own, suggesting a deeper, more collaborative approach to childcare.
Conveyed strongly throughout the narrative is the idea that penguin survival relies on a system of deep trust and affection between partners, and members of the colony; this read leaves us pondering the truest and purest forms of love and teamwork.
Review by Debs Allbrook, marine biologist
View a selection of images from Penguin in our online gallery.
Microsculpture: Portraits of Insects, by Levon Biss
To achieve such vivid portraits of the insects, photographer Levon Biss had to get extremely close to her subjects, and the results are incredible. Each image was meticulously composed from a combination of approximately 8,000 photos, taking around four weeks to create a single photograph.
The final product is an intensely detailed examination that will take you closer to these insects than you’ve ever been before.
View a selection of images from Microsculpture in our online gallery.
Forgotten Little Creatures, by Victoria Hillman
- Buy now from vikspics
It took photographer Victoria Hillman over four years to carefully curate this examination of the animals and plants that thrive within a 40 mile radius of Frome in Somerset.
With over 100 images to explore and enjoy, ranging from butterflies to frogs, it’s also packed with science facts and stories so you can learn even more about the thriving life in the area.
Sacred Nature, by Jonathan and Angela Scott
- Buy now from HPH Publishing
Based in the African region of Mara-Serengeti, photographers Jonathan and Angela Scott have used their position and understanding of this incredible location to capture the beauty of its scenery and its wild animals, including leopards, lions and cheetahs.
With a combination of black and white images mixed with those packed with full colour, this book contains 288 pages of stunning photography in all.
Fearless Females, by Mario Ludwig
In the first of its kind, this photo book from German publishing company teNeues focusses exclusively on the female half of the animal kingdom and their extraordinary stories. The book is split into five sections looking at different aspects of their lives, with facts and incredible stories in both English and German by biologist, author and podcast host Mario Ludwig.
In a collaboration with the specialist photography agency Nature Picture Library it features some 150 stunning images by a range of the world’s best wildlife photographers, including Tim Laman, Anup Shah, Fiona Rogers and Sergey Gorshkov.
Text and images combined make for a captivating book covering a wide spectrum of animal behaviour and species, from the remarkable breeding balls of the green anaconda (and the females’ ingenious solution for when there are no males around); the good manners required during the courtship of the common kingfisher; the special treatment of the queen honeybee; and the strict matriarchal society of the spotted hyena. All in all, this is a book to make you re-think the role of the female.
Reviewed by Megan Shersby, editorial and digital co-ordinator, BBC Wildlife
Panda Love, by Ami Vitale
Taken on location in China, photographer Ami Vitale brings us her stunning and up-close accounts of panda bears, taken in both sanctuaries and their natural habitat.
These vivid images shine a light and shower plenty of love on the playful cubs and adult pandas that inhabit the region.
The Salmon Way: An Alaska State of Mind, by Amy Gulick
Familiarise yourself with these hardworking fish as they make their way upstream in the cold rivers of Alaska.
Shot by Amy Gulick, these full colour images showcase not only the salmon themselves but the lives they interact with, including Alaska Native families and hungry brown bears scouring the water for their next meal.
Andrew Lloyd is a digital writer covering the latest gadgets, appliances and devices across Immediate Media's special interest brands. Whether you’re relaxing at home, exploring a mountainside, or staring into space, he likely has a recommendation for you.
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