We need your help to fill the pages of our 2021 Zoo Calendar!

Competition now closed. Winners will be notified by Friday 12 June.

Entrants to our exclusive member photo competition are in the chance to have their photograph appear as the star of the month in the Zoos Victoria Calendar for 2021. We’re looking for eye-catching photographs of our animals taken at one of the three zoo properties.

We’ve put together some tips and tricks from our resident Zoo Photographer, Jo Howell, to get you started…

Timing is everything

A great time to see the animals at their most active is during daily keeper talks. The animals also tend to be more active earlier in the day and late in the afternoon (avoid the hottest part of the day).

Check out the keeper talk times now for Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo

Find a backdrop

Try to get the animal as the main focus of the image. Pay attention to your background, try to avoid distracting items in the background such as human-made objects, distracting foliage or other animals. Change your position, angle of view or find a great angle for a background and wait for the animal to move into that space.

The main focus

Try to ensure you have an animal’s eye in focus in your photographs. In many cameras, you can choose your focus point, if you can do so, put this chosen point over the animal’s eye in the frame to use it as your focus point. Some cameras even have a handy setting called ‘animal eye focus tracking’.

A way to separate your subject from its surrounds is to use a shallow depth of field – this is where the subject is in focus and the foreground and background are out of focus. You can do this by using the largest aperture (such as F2.8 or 4) possible in ‘Manual’ or ‘Aperture Priority’ settings on your camera. If you do not know how to do this, consult your camera manual or set the camera to portrait mode as it will have the same effect.

Tools of the trade

You do not need to have the biggest zoom lens or professional quality gear to get great photos. You can use anything from a camera phone up to a DSLR.

If you do have a zoom lens, don’t forget that details of animals such as close ups of feathers, eyes or patterns of fur can be just as impactful as an image of a whole animal in its environment. You can concentrate on showing animals in their habitat, larger groups or head to places such as the butterfly house, the reptile house or lemurs where you have the chance to see the animals at close range.

Leave no trace

Just remember photographing animals takes patience, please respect the animals and also fellow zoo visitors. Never bang on an enclosure or yell to try and get an animal to react.

Entries now closed

The competition closed at 11.59pm Sunday 31 May 2020. Be sure to read the full terms and conditions.

  • Entries must be registered via https://www.zoo.org.au/member-photo-competition
  • Entries received via email or any other means other than the above website will not be accepted.
  • Members must provide full name, member number, phone and email with registration
  • Entrants with images from multiple properties will be required to register a submission for each property, which may include multiple images
  • Multiple registrations are accepted
  • Maximum 4MB per submission
  • Hi-Res version no less than 15MB must be available and provided by the winners on request
  • The judges decision is final