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Tips for Taking Photos at the Aquarium

Posted by on February 3, 2013

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a photography post, and last week I asked for some topics people were looking to learn more about.  One of those topics was how to take better photos at the aquarium.


The Aquarium is one of the toughest places to take photographs.  With the dark lighting, the light coming out from the aquarium, and the movement of the fish.  It is hard.  Not to mention, often times, the glass of the aquarium is scratched up.

But I have come out with a few tips to make your next outing a bit better:

1) Do Not Use Flash

With the glass, the light from the flash will just bounce off of it making the light visible in your shots.  So it is recommended to not utilize flash while at the aquarium unless you have an external flash that can be pointed towards the ceiling.

However, if you have a point and shoot with a fixed flash attached, you are going to want to angle your camera so the flash not directly in front of the glass.

2) Pay Attention to the Reflective Light

What’s nice about digital cameras is that you can take a shot then adjust as needed.  But at the aquarium it’s really important to pay attention to the reflective light coming from within the aquarium or even behind you.  The reflective lights, if present, will turn your shot blurry.  You can play around with this by adjusting the angle of your camera, getting close to the glass, or even getting a reflective hood for your camera.

3) Wear Black Clothing

Light color clothing will add to the reflective light.  And often times, because of the glass, even our face and hands may get reflected off the glass so if dress in black, we can get rid of a lot of the reflective light coming from us.

4) What’s your shutter speed?

Because of the movement of the fish, you will want at least 1/60 second shutter speed, however, if you can get up to 1/125th second that is the ideal for the aquarium.

5) What’s Your ISO?

A lot of aquarium’s don’t allow tripods into their places so that means we need to find a way to balance the movement from our cameras.  What helps is when we can up our ISO to counter balance the darker artificial light from the aquarium space.

Granted, the higher the ISO it also means the grainier the shot.   Because aquariums are darker spaces, that higher ISO is needed.

6) Metering!

Our cameras are always looking to brighten our shots.  However, in the aquarium setting we do want our shots to be a bit on the darker side to bring out the true colors coming from the fish.  That’s where metering comes into play.

If you can meter your came between -1 to -2 to make your shots darker you will be happy with the pictures that come out at you.

If you are curious to learn more about metering, check out this article here.

7) Observation

And it comes down to paying attention to your surroundings.  Things such as scratches on the glass to looking at what people are doing around you.  Often times, people can make for some great silhouette shots at the aquarium.  Also, pay attention to what the fish or animals may be doing in front of you.  It’s those moments that can make for some great photos.


8) Practice

And of course my last piece of advice is just “practice.”  The more often you go and play around with your camera and settings to get the ideal shots you’re looking for the more and more you’ll come home with shots you’re happy with.  It comes down to knowing your camera.

9) Photography Nights

Some aquariums around the world have photography nights.  Those nights are when photographer’s are invited into the aquarium with their tripods, or are even allowed to borrow other cameras to have a fun night of photography.  Check in with your local aquarium to see if they offer this.

Hope you enjoyed this article.  Please let me know what other photography topics you’d be interested in learning about.

I’m joining in with Someday I’ll Learn’s Teach Me Tuesday series this week.  Check out the other fun posts involved.

Someday I'll Learn

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Shutterfly.

16 Responses to Tips for Taking Photos at the Aquarium

  1. Mary

    Good post! What’s so funny is, some of my most favorite and effortless pictures were taken there:)

    • Jamie

      I can see that happening. That’s the beauty of photography sometimes. Often, we just have to let ourselves go and hope for the best too 😉

  2. LisaLisa

    Great tips! A lot of my photo’s taken at our Local Aquarium were dark and some blurry. Now I will know how to make the correct adjustment to my camera to capture great photos.

  3. Randa @ The Bewitchin' Kitchen

    These are some great tips! The majority of my photos from the Maui Aquarium didn’t turn out because I had no idea what I was doing.
    Randa @ The Bewitchin’ Kitchen recently posted..Cook N Grow F9

  4. jenn

    Great tips. I’m always so disappointed when Pictures at the zoo of fish don’t turn out. I’ll have try these technique next time I go.
    jenn recently posted..Lazy Toddler? The Juppy will teach them to walk #Review

  5. Greta

    It seems like a lot of my photos are either really awesome…or really not.
    Greta recently posted..100 Ways to Say I Love You

  6. Shannon (The Mommy-Files)

    These are some really great tips! Thanks for sharing.
    Shannon (The Mommy-Files) recently posted..You’re Invited: Bigelow Tea #AmericasTea Twitter Party This Valentine’s Day – 2/14 1-2 pm EST!

  7. Trianna

    I was always jealous of the shots other people got. Mine never looked as good, so I just stopped trying. I’m definitely going to put these tips to good use this summer. If the pictures come out looking good, I’ll email you!
    Trianna recently posted..Eff them All {An Ode to my Sister}

  8. Bibi @ Bibi's Culinary Journey

    I wish I had these tips before my many trips to the Aquarium. I always take million shots and hope for the best 🙂
    Bibi @ Bibi’s Culinary Journey recently posted..Heiße Liebe or Hot Love Dessert

  9. Alexis Grace

    Some of my absolute favorite photos that I’ve taken have been in an aquarium (! It is such a great place to hone your photographic skill with tremendous payoff.
    Alexis Grace recently posted..Lanvin Spring 2013 Ad Campaign

  10. Monica Chavez

    I like the tip about angling your camera when taking a picture with flash so that it’s not facing directly at glass. My sister loves taking her four year old daughter to the aquarium and look at all the animals, and I know she wants to take great pictures to document their trips. I will definitely pass these tips onto her.

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