What’s More Difficult, Taking Pictures in a Zoo or in the Wild?


Taking pictures in a zoo or in the wild? Really????

Ha, ha, ha…I had quite a chuckle getting that search on GWGT!

The post that gets searched pretty often is How to Photograph Zoo Animals – It’s Not About Looking Cute. My guess is any true wildlife photographer might just have a fit if someone seriously asked them that question.


In my post, I talk about photographing zoo animals, along with a bit of commentary about caged wildlife. Since that post, I have gotten to many areas to see and photograph wildlife in nature.


Granted, photographing zoo animals does have its limitations, like shooting through glass, behind bars or in very low light conditions – all shown in this post. True wildlife photography on location is no comparison. Zoos have animals at the ready. Finding a wild subject is akin to hunting. And trust me, hunting them for a photograph is HARD sometimes.


I have posts on photographing hawks, eagles, owls, and a number of other birds, all which took time and some luck to locate. I see very few mammals, especially what would be considered game animals, except for deer. I see lots and lots of deer.


Hands down, photographing in nature is by far more difficult. And the biggest gripe about photographing in zoos?


It is when photographers pass off big game animal closeups as if they were shot in the wild – carefully cropping out all that says “zoo picture”.


So what do you think? Was I on safaris all over the world? πŸ˜€


Do you think big name botanical gardens are like zoos for plants? I am still perplexed why garden bloggers shun those places. I find them the most fascinating places to see plants and plant combinations. Photographers get the most beautiful photos of plants and professionally designed garden spaces.

Just a note, on Facebook I joined a photography group, Nature Photography / Wildlife Photography. No biggie, just that I add an image a day to the group if you see me posting on FB, which I never do.

It is really funny what gets all the Likes. I see photos of lions walking the savannah and they get so few. I load a cardinal and get lots of Likes. No zoo animals allowed either. I wonder if people believe the lions are free.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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13 Responses to What’s More Difficult, Taking Pictures in a Zoo or in the Wild?

  1. swo8 says:

    Great pictures, Donna. The local wild life is pretty interesting too. We had a coyote walk down our street today. I wish I had a camera. The zoo animals are interesting but we are probably more interested in what we may find here.

  2. You are right. I could go to Longwood Gardens every day for months and still find designs, plants, and hardscape to photograph. I am not a fan of zoos.

  3. alesiablogs says:

    I had the best time in the zoo the other day photographing the animals with my son! However, all the time knowing in my head—-if it were so easy in the wildlife –wouldn’t that be grand!!! Funny post! I really can’t wait to learn more and more about photography. It’s truly a gift.

  4. I think photographing animals is difficult, period. Humans, too. I’ll stick to flowers as much as I can.

  5. Plants are definitely more cooperative than animals. I’ve not heard that garden bloggers shun botanical gardens. Hmmm….I think they are great places to see plants. In fact our zoo has a lot of landscaped beds with many native plants and they are labeled. I think it is a nice way to give a broader audience exposure to plants, plant combinations, and I enjoy photographing them when we go to the zoo.

  6. I would imagine nature is harder to capture as it is far and wide and animals can go anywhere….

  7. I love your images. Even in your back yard there is an ecosystem worthy of photography. As to photos in zoos or in the wild. It is about honesty. Both are valid. I have a photo of a lion taken behind bars that I took years ago. I like it because of the expression in the lions eyes – the bars are an important aspect of the image. Most of us will never get a chance to see the big animals in the wild, so although I don’t like zoos, they are a chance to take photos of animals that you would never see.

  8. Even though it can be more challenging photographing animals in their natural habitat, I believe it’s the best – if not the only- place they should be photographed and not a zoo. Seeing caged animals never seemed entertaining or educational to me, but very sad. I think the expressions of the animals are a good tell tell sign… Once again, exceptional shots! Happy weekend, my dear Donna

  9. Great photos. I used to love going to the Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoos here in Chicago, but haven’t been in years.

  10. Victor Ho says:

    Good question. You can get stunning shots in a zoo. Zoom up and you can even get an image that could be anywhere. But there is a quintessential difference about being in the wild. A wide angle shot of a rhino in its habitat is hard to beat. I was lucky enough to be in Africa once upon a time. If you go, be sure to rent some heavy duty (lenses) glass if you don’t possess it already. That made a difference for me.

  11. Every time it’s a pleasure to read your post and look yours photographies ,I think it’s more easy to takes somes photos in a zoo but it’s more magical to be in natural habitat also I would like to know if you receive always my post because I change my website adress
    Thanks a lot

  12. Phil Lanoue says:

    I have a friend that is a wildlife photographer and has posted typical bird shots… ducks, herons, egrets, pelicans etc. then all of a sudden there is a tiger photo stuck in there with no explanation.
    I gathered that it was from a recent zoo visit but somewhat humorous none the less.

  13. Oh my dear Donna, no matter what the subject matter, your photos are stunning. I just shake my head. No adequate words actually. What a treat seeing these beautiful creatures.

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