42nd Street Photo’s Zoo Photography Tips

Zoos are a great place for photo opportunities. Keep in mind you are probably going to do a lot of walking so pack light. Zoos allow us to take photos from a safe distance but the enclosures can cause a few issues. Zoo photography also allows photographers a chance to get very close to animals without a lot of equipment We are going to provide some general tips that should help you out.


Camera with zoom, 300mm lens is preferred


Extra batteries

Memory Cards (be sure they are empty)

Plenty of Film

Camera bag with shoulder straps (makes carrying your equipment while walking much easier)


Fences are always one of the biggest challenges at zoos. The object is too clear the fence and this does not mean going over it people. You will need to adjust the settings on the camera or your photos will come out blurred. Move as close as possible to the fence without violating any zoo rules. Try to position the camera so the lens is pointing through one of the gaps, the face of the animal should be in that gap.


Shooting through glass can be extremely tricky due to glare and reflection. It can be extremely hard to get a clear shot. Wipe away the area of the glass you are going to shoot through. Press the camera against the glass the minimize reflection. You might also carry a lens hood or hold your hand above the camera to prevent any further reflection. Check your surrounding for visitors leaning on the glass as this can cause movement when taking the photo.


One more challenge you might be facing will be backgrounds. Use a shallow depth of field to blur backgrounds. This can create an illusion of a real background instead of walls or fences. Try shooting from a low or high angle as this will help reduce your background to real tress or grass. Your positioning is also important, look for the position that is going to give you the best overall shot.


You will also need patience to get the best shot. The animals aren’t always in the greatest positions. You might have to wait a few minutes or even come back to see if they have changed position to get that perfect shot.

These are just a few tips and the most common that will help when shooting at a zoo. The best way to learn is to go out and practice and keep shooting.


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