Pin Me

Portrait of the Zoo Photographer - What it Takes to be a Zoo Photographer

written by: Mayflor Markusic•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/9/2010

Being a zoo photographer is not the most lucrative or ideal career. Anyone who knows the basics of photography can go to the zoo and take pictures of animals, but not everyone has what it takes to call themselves a real zoo photographer.

  • slide 1 of 2

    So you want to be a zoo photographer?

    The zoo photographer’s career might not be as glamorous or as lucrative as that of the wildlife or nature photographer. The latter travels to remote and faraway places, meet interesting people, immerse in a different culture, take pictures of rarely seen animals, and appear on television. The former, however, goes to man-made edifices where the wildlife is trapped inside cages. The zoo photographer walks along cemented pathways, following directions to different areas of the zoo, and take pictures of animals that thousands of people have already seen. However, zoo photography has its own intrinsic rewards, including the pleasure of seeing animals in a safe environment.

    Can anyone become a zoo photographer? Anyone who has a camera and would like to go to the zoo and take pictures of animals can be considered to be practicing zoo photography. Anyone who has decent skills with the camera can take great pictures of animals. But becoming a zoo photographer takes more than photographic skill. A person who actually enjoys zoo photography is someone who exhibits these facets of his/her personality.

  • slide 2 of 2

    More than skills

    The patience of a saint

    To take great pictures of animals, the zoo photographer must have the patience of a saint. The zoo animals do not comprehend human's ridiculous need to take pictures. Thus, they will not pose themselves for the mere sake of a perfectly composed photograph! They would rather stay in shaded areas to be more comfortable. But sometimes, they will also want to explore their cage. Thus, if the photographer is patient enough, he/she can take pictures of the animals during these moments.

    The passion of a lover

    Chances are, there will be no great financial reward for pictures taken at the zoo. A photographer will have a very difficult time making a lucrative career out of zoo photography. Thus, the fun of taking pictures of animals at the zoo rapidly loses its appeal. Very few photographers have the passion and dedication to take pictures of animals, zoo after zoo and after zoo.

    The madness of a genius

    People know the most irritating attitude of geniuses – that these geniuses know something but they don't bother to explain it in plain English. The truth is that even zoo photographers could not really explain the attraction of taking pictures of animals. Some call it an affinity with animals. Others think that it is the photographers’ compassion that propels them to take pictures of animals. But no one really knows the real reason.

    The stamina of an athlete

    The zoo photographer must have the stamina of an athlete due to the simple fact that the zoo is not a small place. It is easy to give up zoo photography because it is hard work. Touring the whole zoo can be physically demanding, but zoo photographers must endure and persevere.