How to Take Great Photos at the Zoo

Whether you want to become a professional wildlife photographer or are just looking to have some fun, photos at the zoo are a great way to pass the time. Zoos are pretty exciting to visit because they're full of exotic animals you normally would never see without traveling thousands of miles. And, bringing a camera with you makes it possible to share the experience with others.

Get There Early

There is a lot to see at the zoo, and if you want to make the most out of your day, then you need to get there early. It doesn't have to be sunrise, but it should be in the morning. Admission is good for the whole day, so get the most bang out of your buck. Remember, if you want to have some really great photos, then you need to have a lot of photos shot to choose from.

Be Patient

Another reason to get to the zoo early is that the animals are not going to pose for you on demand. In fact, you're going to see a lot of exhibits where the animal is just sleeping. If you really want a great shot of the leopards, then you're either going to have to come back later or wait around. Whatever you decide to do, just be prepared to know that you're most likely going to have to wait for that magical shot.


Sometimes you'll be lucky enough to come to a display where there's a lot of action that you need to capture quickly. The best way to capture these moments is to pre-focus. Pre-focusing involves guessing where the action is about to happen, focusing on that distance, and hitting the shutter as soon as it happens. It involves a lot of guess, testing and revising, but when its done right, you're left with great shots.

Avoid Cages

It is very hard to get great shots of animals in cages. Unless you can get close, it will be very hard to see the animal behind the bars and it will create focus problems. You also will get an unwanted moire pattern. Unless you can get close, don't waste your time getting shots you will end up hating. Analyze the situation, and if it doesn't seem worth it, then move on to the next exhibit.

Use a Polarizing Filter

Some exhibits are behind glass, and a polarizer will help eliminate unwanted reflections, giving you high quality photos.

Always Be Safe

Remember that you are photographing wild animals. Don't ever cross any baricades to get close; use telephoto lenses to do that for you. Also, don't lean over any ledges and always use a safety strap to attach the camera to your wrist. That way, if it does slip out of your hands, it won't be lost.

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: