How to Photograph a NYC Squirrel with an iPhone

539167_10151757603717817_657478382_nReposted from my travel blog,

It’s autumn in New York, so the city’s squirrels are hard at work burying their nuts.  But nothing can really give your vacation photos that “awwwww” moment like a photograph of an authentic New York City squirrel.  Everyone who passes through this town dreams of having that great cover photo of a squirrel doin’ its squirrel thing in a park littered with colorful leaves.  The Central Park dwellers are the hardest to get because they’re really just so over the whole tourist with a camera thing, so they’re definitely NOT playing any games.  If you want to get a NYC squirrel, you’ve got to bring your A-game.

I don’t want to give you a false confidence, because it’s not easy.  Once you get one to approach you, there will inevitably be a child who sees and comes running up.  This is usually fine – the squirrels are used to that.  Unless it’s some ornery little French boys who toss acorns at your squirrel, then delightfully squeal, “Maman!  Il a mangé ce que je lui ai donné!”  Squirrels don’t like that at all.  Squirrels don’t understand how human parenting works, so they’ll assume you’re responsible.

If you really want that great NYC squirrel pic to commemorate your vacation in the Big Apple, here’s how you do it.

1.  Find a squirrel.  They’re ubiquitous.


2. Make a kissy sound with your mouth.  But don’t use your lips to make the sound, it’s more of an inner-buccal kissing kind of sound.  This will alert the squirrel.


3. Let the squirrel see that you got something for it (even if you don’t… But seriously, it’s better if you do because squirrels are smart and they’ve been playing this game longer than you have).


4. At this point, the squirrel is interested. She’s interested. But she’s just not sure.


5. She sees it’s the real deal.  She inches closer.


6. She wants it. She wants it sooooooo bad.  At this point, the squirrel is experiencing an internal struggle of epic proportions.  It could be a trap.  But it could be delicious. The internal squirrel monologue goes like this:

“No!  Don’t do it!.” “Do it.  Do it.  Do it.  It’ll be so good.”

She sinks low into stealth mode.


7. This is a moral compromise.  The hind legs are still kinda planted firmly where they were, but she’s stretched out toward the bait.  This is clever.  And deceptive.  At this point, she thinks you can’t see her.  Just go with it.


8. And there you go.  Win.


9. But you gotta be fast.  As soon as your shutter clicks she’s gone.  And she ain’t coming back for more.  She too proud for any such nonsense.