Just ask Jon Bowermaster, who has directed, written or produced a number of films about nature for clients including National Geographic over the past 12 years.
The job requires technical know-how, and other abilities as well.
"You really need a high level of outdoor skills," he told AOL News recently. "Whenever you see a great diving shot of someone risking their life, there is a cameraman doing something even more dangerous to get the shot. This is a job that requires someone to be adept at climbing, hiking and sailing."
"Honestly, 95 percent of what we shoot never gets seen," Bowermaster said. "Let me explain the margin of error. My films take place on the water, and there is an iconic shot we did of a kayak floating down the river while a manta ray rolls underneath. The photo before or after the one selected is just not right. Still, there's something to be said for putting yourself out there."
Of course, reward only comes from risk, but the downsides can include ridiculous experiences -- such as the time Bowermaster was filming in Antarctica and a very hungry sled dog ate his very expensive microphone.
"We had just completed a 221-day dog sledding expedition, and the cameraman and sound guy turned their backs on one of the dogs," Bowermaster said. "We turned around and the dog is devouring the microphone. I can understand why. The mic had a windscreen on it that made it look like a critter. Even if it hadn't eaten the mic, he probably would have just peed on it."
Another wild experience came when Bowermaster was filming his upcoming documentary, "SoLa: Louisiana Water Stories," which premieres next month at the Woodstock Film Festival in Woodstock, N.Y.
"We went to a fisherman's house and filmed him grilling oysters," Bowermaster said. "The camera and sound guys were focused on the cooking. Then it started getting hot and realized it was because the boom mic caught on fire."
As exciting as that was, the fire didn't make the final cut.
There is one experience that Bowermaster probably wishes he had filmed but couldn't because it involved a missing camera part that fell into shark-infested waters.
"This guy, who was working with us for the first time, accidentally dropped the part into the water and it started sinking. Without thinking, he jumped in to save it and had to free dive 30 feet to retrieve it," Bowermaster said, still amazed after all this time.
"When he swam back to the surface, his lungs were bursting, but he got the part," he said, adding that the guy's effort has become something of a legend in the world of wildlife filmmakers.
But that type of dedication really isn't unusual to the folks who film or photograph wildlife.
Seems everyone who does it has a story of doing something crazy in order to get a shot, such as K.S. Brooks, a fine art photographer based in Spokane, Wash., whose nature shots are sold in galleries all over the U.S.
"You can get so driven to get pictures that you will go the extra distance to get the perfect shot," she said. "There's a photographer named Jim Brandenburg who walked across Minnesota limiting himself to just one photo a day. The downside is that you're so driven to get pictures that you can be in the middle of trying to get 'the shot' and you suddenly come to your senses and realize you're being an idiot."
That happened to Brooks when she spent two days at Denali National Park in Alaska looking for grizzly bears.
"We didn't see any, until we ended up in between a mother bear and her child by a river," Brooks said. "We wanted the shots so bad we went out at night. That is a super stupid way to get a photo."
But Brooks hasn't necessarily learned from her experiences.
"Last summer, I was in the wilderness in Washington state and I heard a cougar growl and got my camera," Brooks said. "At some point, I realized I couldn't see it, but it could see me."
Brooks' favorite story of how crazy she will get to get the photo happened in Tyngsborough, Mass., after an ice storm.
"There was a vine with red berries glazed with ice in front of a beautiful white birch tree. The light was hitting them just right, so I crossed the small metal bridge over the waterfall with, possibly, a 30-foot drop," she said. "My eyes were glued to the picture I wanted, but what I didn't realize -- and would have made complete sense -- was that if the berries were glazed with ice, the ground probably was as well."
When Brooks came off the bridge, her feet slid out from under her, causing her to fall on her stomach and slide down the incline.
"I was lucky to somehow dig my fingernails into the ice with my free hand," she said. "I never let go of my camera, and it took me quite a few minutes to regain control of my situation."
Although Brooks got her shot, and sold it to a couple of private collectors, she admits it wasn't worth the risk.
"It was just stupid -- those berries weren't going anywhere," she said.
Susan Gottlieb and her husband, Dan, are two photographers who have gotten themselves into wild situations while out in the wild, such as being chased by an elephant seal while in Antarctica.
"It was on a trip with other photographers and we all set up camera on the beach trying to get eye-level photos of penguins," she said. "Dan hadn't seen the seal coming right toward him and had to jump out of the way. Their mouths are very dirty. One of the guides had been bit by one on an earlier trip and ended up with a collapsed lung."
But their wildest encounter happened in their own back yard.
"We have a little pond and got some Pacific tree frogs because we wanted to photograph their life cycle," she said. "A neighbor thought they were cute, but not when about 100 escaped and ended up in her pool. They were happy and started singing loudly there -- my neighbor complained just as loudly, and we had to do a frog round-up."
In fact, despite Brooks' close shaves in the wild, she feels the biggest danger isn't in the wild, it's online.
"Really, everyone who gets a digital camera thinks they can do this," she said. "Stock photo agencies and websites like Flickr are really hurting the biz. It's dog-eat-dog, and people don't appreciate photography as an art.
"It's really tough when people see a photo of mine and ask me what camera I used. The implication is that if they had the camera, they could do the same shot."