The perfect place to get close-up shots is at the zoo. You can also combine photography and a family-friendly trip.

Gear Suggestions

A long zoom lens is useful as it will allow you to reach the animals without climbing into their enclosures. A 70-300mm lens or larger would be a good choice. You might also consider bringing a macro lens with you, as many zoos offer enclosures that allow you to get very close to the insects.

A tilting LCD LCD screen camera is ideal for zoo photography. You could also bring a monopod to elevate your camera above the fences. But leave your tripod at home, as they are not well-suited to crowds.

Bring a brolly, as it is likely to rain during your trip. Also, keep a lens cloth handy if you need to clean off any raindrops that could blur your shot. A lens hood is useful as you might have to shoot directly into the sun since you only have a few angles.

Polarizing filters are great for shooting through the glass because they reduce reflections and bounce light. This will make fur’s textures, and tones stand out.


Pay attention to the weather forecast. You’ll be soaked, and animals will go indoors to take photos. However, you’ll still have glass and people in a small area. It’s possible to get harsh shadows if it’s extremely sunny. Fill-in flash is possible, but it’s not usually allowed. It’s better to stick with natural light and increase the ISO. Rain is too heavy and the sun too bright, but overcast days are just right. Images will look balanced and even with a slight cloud cover.

Plan And Research

Before you leave, visit the zoo’s website, locate a map, and create a plan. To beat the crowds, arrive early and walk around in opposite directions to avoid the crowds. This will allow you to get shots that aren’t crowded. Visitors love to visit the feeding times, so make sure you arrive early.

Glass and Cages

Many things can be dangerous when you try to photograph in zoos. Sometimes, the gaps are large enough to allow your lens to pass through. If they are not, you can position your lens to point through one of them. Or, if there are small gaps between the fence and your subject, adjust your wider aperture setting to wait for the animal’s return from the cage. You won’t notice the fence if you do this. You won’t encounter fencers if you go indoors, but you will have to deal with the glass full of greasy smudges. Use a lens hood to reduce reflections. To minimize shake, switch to a slower shutter speed if many people are touching the glass. As glass can fool cameras, you may need to switch to manual focusing.

Find good shooting spots & angles.

Before you start taking photos, make sure to walk around the enclosure’s edge. This will help you find the best locations for your shots. Avoid shooting too low as it can cause distortions. Instead, shoot closer to the animal’s eye to get a dynamic shot. To avoid causing any injuries, use a wide lens setting. You can crop out later. A shot with a monkey’s tail missing is quite annoying. This will make your shot stand out, and you won’t have to tell anyone that your subject was taken at a zoo.

Focus and shutter speeds

Many animals cannot stay still, so you can use focus lock to set a prefocus point on the object and then take the shot when the animal moves into the area that’s being focused. If you have trouble getting your subject into the frame, keep your eyes on the camera and use continuous shooting mode. Use a fast shutter speed to freeze their movements. If panning, use a speed of 1/8sec to 1/30sec to blur the background while keeping the animal sharp.

White Balance

When moving between indoor and outdoor enclosures, keep an eye on the white balance and be aware of condensation. If you don’t want your camera to adjust, it will produce blurred and dreamy shots.