Top tips for zoo photography

With Covid restrictions easing, zoos are booking up quick! If, like me, you’re looking forward to finally being able to add to your zoo photography portfolio, we don’t want to mess it up.

Here are some must-know tips for zoo photography.

Getting around the fences

We all know zoo photography can be annoying with most of the animals kept behind faces. The fences can sometimes ruin a shot entirely. However, it can be what makes the photo so Instagram-worthy.

Of course, you can blend out the fence entirely by putting your lens close to the fence and focusing solely on the animal and using the widest aperture. Nevertheless, if the animal is right next to the fence, there isn’t much you can do to remove the fence.

On the other hand, getting a clear shot of both the fence and the animal can also be a beautiful image and a reminder to yourself and your audience that you’re at the zoo.

By Brett Sayles


Don’t worry, there isn’t a ‘best’ lens for zoo photography. You don’t need a huge zoom lens that will have your back aching for the rest of the day.

You will be able to get up close to a lot of animals at the zoo anyway. However, sometimes an image showing more than just a close-up of the animal can be a great picture, too, so don’t count out your small 50mm lens just yet.

Book an early slot

Remembering to book online to avoid disappointment, the best time for a zoo photo shoot is early in the morning.

The animals will just be waking up and getting active whilst the visitors are still arriving. Later in the day, the animals will be sleeping and hiding from the loud visitors. Those that are out will be blocked by the crowds.

It’s also important to research the best active times for the animals you want the photograph so you can capture feeding time and hopefully some great action shots.

By Jimmy Chan

Be patient

Animals are unpredictable so you need to be patient (and perhaps bring a tripod) and prepare for the perfect action shot.

It’s also a fun photo idea to come back at feeding time for natural - or even funny - photo opportunities.

Zoo photographers should visit the zoo regularly And research the animals to learn about the animals behaviour for better photos.

Researching your favourite animals before your visit allows you to see when the animals are most active and when the shows ad demonstrations are.

By Alexandr Podvalny

Eliminate glare from glass enclosures

Not only is there the issue of dirty glass enclosures, there is also the issue with glare.

Bring along a diffuser or a lens hood to reduce glare. You can even place your lens against the glass for better images. Tilt your lens to an angle that removes glare, set your ISO and take some shots.

As well as with the fences, there’s nothing wrong with showing your audience that you’re at the zoo.

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