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EARLY Morning at the National Zoo!

Capture Great Early Morning Photos of the Animals at the National Zoo!

Quick Details


The very best times to capture the animals at the National Zoo in your camera are the morning hours when they come out of their cages and dens. Pet and wildlife photographer Julie Gould, who has spent years photographing animals of all types in and out of zoos, leads this morning trek to all the best photo ops.

The National Zoo is one of the nation’s premier locations showcasing many species of wild animals from around the world. The many species will keep us entertained for the entire time we’ll spend photographing them. We’ll concentrate on the animals in outdoor exhibits starting with the Great Cats—African LIONS and TIGERS—Amur and Sumatran. While we’re there, Julie will discuss how to read the light, be taught how to anticipate the best action, and learn how to create the best possible images at each exhibit. We’ll also discuss long lens techniques, selective depth of field, techniques for getting great backgrounds and the importance of patience.

Among the animals you will capture in your camera on this safari are zebras, cheetahs, turtles, antelopes, gorillas, elephants, and eagles.  Julie will also offer tips on lens use, composition, ISO and white balance settings and moving quickly to get the best wildlife photographs.

What to Expect and Bring

This safari is best enjoyed by photographer enthusiasts and professionals who know their camera controls. It is also an active safari with 2-3 miles of walking on zoo grounds.

Long lenses are suggested for this class for the animals in the outdoor exhibits – a minimum of 300mm or 200mm with a 1.5x tele-extender is recommended. (Long lenses like 400mm can be rented for the weekend at District Camera (DC, VA), f8 rentals (DC, VA), ProPhoto (DC) or at websites such as,, and Tripods or monopods are highly encouraged.

Bottled water is highly recommended as we are doing a lot of walking!

VA resident Julie Gould is an avid pet and wildlife photographer whose images have appeared in recent years on our website and in prints. She knows the best angle at each enclosure within the Zoo which she learned from David Sendzul, WPS’s former instructor and avid wildlife photographer. Julie has photographed animals in Africa on safari in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa’s Kruger National Park. In Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park, she’s photographed White-faced Capuchin Monkeys and Two-Toed Sloths.

From bharagan, Annapolis, Maryland (rated 5 Stars on Trip Advisor!):

Julie Gould, our trainer, did an excellent job of providing detailed instructions to a group that included both seasoned photographers with rather expensive camera equipment and amateurs with iPhones. Julie is always cool, calm, and collected—ever willing to go the extra mile to explain something or lend her own equipment to a student. Though I was one of the iPhone amateurs, I never felt embarrassed by (rather pathetic) attempts. Julie was very encouraging to everyone. I learned more than I thought possible in a 2+ hour session.

From Lisa F., 5 stars:

Awesome Experience!!
I attended the Early Morning at the Zoo safari in mid-October and it was awesome! My instructor, Julie Gould was so attentive and very knowledgeable. She helped me work through the settings on my new camera, find new and unusual vantage points that I would not have discovered on my own, and master shots I had been working on forever. It was a great day and I cannot wait to for my next safari!! I have attended a number of safaris with Washington Photo Safari over the years and I have never been disappointed.

From Al M.:

Great Zoo Workshop!

I really appreciated Julie Gould’s knowledge and expertise during the workshop at the National Zoo. She knew where to go and when the animals are most likely to be active. She knows her business and it was a great tour. Be prepared to walk three miles.

From John M.:

Lions, Tigers and Bears!! Oh my!
Fantastic zoofari! Baby Panda, lions, tiger, lemurs, seals and more. Celebrated my father-in-law’s 80th birthday with this treat. He’s a semi-pro but really loved the chance to hone his skills. I’m a novice and learned a ton! Julie, our guide, was great! She knew all the best spots and got us member access into the panda area before that was open to the general public. There was plenty of time at each stop to try different techniques and get advice. Julie sent out a guide in advance of the tour. It really helped us to prepare! The tour size was ideal. We met other enthusiasts and enjoyed the company. The tour loops around the zoo exhibits. There’s plenty of shade along the way and rest areas at each photo stop. It’s a great way to make your own memories before the pandas go back to China.