Zoo Photography Tips!

prairiedog The zoo is one of the best places to take photos. Nowhere else on earth will you find so many different species of animals in such a small area. Some zoos even have lots of interesting plants such as exotic trees and flowers.

Here are ten tips for great zoo photography:

  1. Get in as close as possible. Depending on the camera you have, you might have a zoom lens. This is great to use at the zoo because the animals are often quite far away. Either way, get as close to the enclosures as possible.
  1. Watch out for fences. If there is a fence in the way it can ruin a photo. Try to shoot the picture through one of the gaps in the fence. Even if you cannot do that, the closer you are to the fence, the less visible it will be in the photograph. Depending on your camera, focus on the animal or, if possible, set the focus to 'center focus' so that it does not focus on the fence.
  1. Watch out for glass. Some mammals, plants, or insects will be behind glass. To take good photos through glass, make sure it is clean and then get in as close as possible.
  2. Watch the weather! There are two reasons for this. If it is very sunny, you should try to photograph the animals mostly when they are in the shadier areas. Bright, direct sunlight leads to photos with strong shadows and poor color. On the other hand, if it is raining, be sure to protect your camera!
  1. Photograph an animal from its level. This is a good tip when photographing pets as well. Get down to their level and the photo will look so much more impressive.
  2. What time is it? Keep track of the time of day. Some animals are more active at different times. Most zoos have scheduled feeding times, which is probably the best time to take photos of the animals. Make sure you find out when they are.
  3. Focus on the eyes. We communicate feelings with the expression on our faces and in our eyes. Animals are the same. Focus on the eyes and it will make your pictures seem warmer, scarier, cuter, sadder, happier, or whatever emotion the animal is feeling.
  4. Be patient. Sometimes animals will be more playful, aggressive, or cute. Other times they will lie around a sleep a lot. You need to be ready to catch them on camera when they are being most interesting. Sometimes that means that zoo photography, like nature photography, can get a bit boring, but if you get a great shot it will certainly be worth it!
  5. Stay safe. Always make sure to follow the rules of the zoo and never put yourself in any danger. Also watch out for pickpockets and other thieves who might want to steal your camera.

by Simon James Allanach, edited by Alan Frost
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