The Virginia Zoo is looking for 12 great photos

NORFOLK — The Virginia Zoo is asking photographers to submit their works for the fourth annual calendar photo contest.

Zoo officials announced the contest in a recent news release, calling for all photographers, “professional and amateur.”

The grand prize winner will get their photo published on the cover of the zoo’s 2020 calendar and a behind-the-scenes tour of their choice said Ashley Grove Mars, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Zoo.

“We form a small committee including the in-house photographer who go through the submissions and narrow them down to about 30 photos,” she said.

Then, the committee’s selections are sent out to zoo employees who vote on the top 12 to fill each month of the calendar, Mars said.

Mars noted tips for contestants and said staff-voters are “wowed” by high-quality and unique or obscure photos that may be more difficult to capture and lends a different perspective.

“It’s interesting for the zookeepers who care for these animals every day to see them through the public’s eyes,” she said.

And, they’re looking for creativity and variety with no two photos with the same subject making the cut.

“Last year, we got over 300 photo submissions and several red panda shots,” Mars said. “As much as we love our red panda, we won’t choose more than one red panda photo.”

Contestants are allowed one submission of four high-resolution and digital format photos that include the animals or gardens at the Virginia Zoo taken after Aug. 1, 2018.

Last year’s contest garnered nearly 400 submissions but Mike Dray’s closeup shot of a scaly reptile took the calendar’s cover.

As the winner of the Virginia Zoo's annual photo contest, Mike Dray's photo of a scaly reptile is published on the cover of the Virginia Zoo's 2019 calendar. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of the Virginia Zoo)
As the winner of the Virginia Zoo’s annual photo contest, Mike Dray’s photo of a scaly reptile is published on the cover of the Virginia Zoo’s 2019 calendar. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of the Virginia Zoo)

Applicants can submit their photos via the Virginia Zoo’s website until Aug. 31 with the finished calendar hitting the shelves at their gift shop by November or early December, Mars said.

To submit your photos or for specific contest rules and regulations, click here

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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.