Zoo photography is a perfect stepping stone into animal and wildlife photography. But how do you take stunning and natural-looking photos of animals living behind bars and cages.
What Is Zoo Photography
Zoo photography means taking pictures of animals in the zoo. It is a bit controversial and some wildlife photographers think it is cheating.
The controversy comes from the fact that many people consider zoos prisons for animals. And some photographers think it’s cheating because the animal is basically ‘placed’ in front of you and you only need to snap the photo.
But zoo photography is an excellent start for any photographer who aspires to pursue in wildlife photographing animals. Whether you are interested in wildlife photography or pet photography, zoo photography can be a great practice for you.
The zoo offers you an opportunity to learn how animals move, behave and what looks good in the photos.
Zoo photography might sound easier than photographing the wildlife of an African Savanah. But there are you have to overcome.
There, cages and windows with reflections in the way. You have to find a solution to avoid them in your photos.
Animals won’t always come close to you. In fact you have to calculate with animals staying in the distance.
Also, there will be other people in the zoo too. You cannot control where and for how long they stay.
You have to consider the lack of control as well. Animals will be moving around or not show themselves at all.
The lighting indoors might also be annoying. Or the weather changes all of a sudden.
Don’t worry, there are ways to overcome these challenges. But don’t expect and easy cruisy photo shoot.
What Equipment Do You Need for Zoo Photography
You don’t need fancy and expensive equipment to shoot great zoo pictures. To overcome the distance issue, you need lenses that allow you to take closer photos of the animals.
A camera with a longer focal length prime lens or a telephoto lens would be perfect, but a proper zoom lens could also work. You can also consider taking a macro lens with you, in case you get lucky. This could also come in handy if you want to photograph insects or other tiny animals.
You could consider bringing a monopod or tripod as well. As you’re likely to photograph moving animals, a tripod can give you the extra stability you need.
A polarizing filter can also be a useful tool for your zoo photography. This will help you manage reflections and suppress glare.
Keep in mind that you can take great zoo photos using a camera and lens with a longer focal length. The rest is only making your life easier.
When it comes to camera settings, it’s more like a trial and error scenario. One thing that you almost always want is a blurry background. This way, your animal subject will be sharp and in focus.
You can achieve this result by using a wider aperture and a longer focal length. This will result in a shallow depth of field. This is also a great way to avoid capturing the cages and bars in the frame.