Living in the city, having a full-time job, a budget, and a family can make it tough to find chances to get out and do amateur wildlife photography. But, to get good at anything, you’ve got to put in the time. So…
Find a spot close to home that you can visit over and over.
My go-to spot is about 20 minutes away; close enough to visit before or after work in the summer. I pretty much know what I’ll find there, so when I’m going it’s not to find charismatic megafauna or rare birds, it’s to practice with the birds, beavers, and rabbits I see every day. It took (and still takes) a mindset shift to accept that some days it’ll just be mallards and crows, but I find I never regret getting out and practicing.
Make a calendar with what’s in season.
If you’ve got a list of what to expect at any given time in the season, it makes planning much easier. That way when you’ve got some time on a weekend, you can quickly refer to what you’ve seen in the past and get out and shoot.
Use those vacations
Family vacations generally don’t have wildlife photography as their first priority because… of my family. That said, there are often times early in the morning when I can find a good spot on ebird and head out before everyone wakes up.
Sometimes it’s just not the season of your life to be out in the field much. Don’t worry, change will come. It always does.