John Ireland

2016 AZA Photo Contest Winner

Winner 2016 Photo Contest

John Ireland

North Carolina Zoo

Arctic Fox © John Ireland, North Carolina Zoo

John Ireland has been working in zoos for the past 22 years.  Since 1998, he has been employed at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, N.C., as a horticulture technician.  When not caring for the plant-life of the Zoo, John is an avid photographer.  

A self-taught photographer, John’s love of photography developed after high-school when he received a Minolta camera as a graduation gift.  Even early on he had a good eye for what makes an excellent photograph.  John likes to think outside of the box, looking for new angles and interesting light for each shot.  A bare-bones photographer, almost all of the photographs he takes utilizes only natural light and no props.  Using only a 75-300mm and an 18-55mm lens, John relies on his patience and the subjects to present the perfect shot.  

During his lunch hours at work, John likes to wander the Zoo with his camera to capture the beauty of the Zoo and its animal inhabitants.  John is not focused on photographing animals “doing something,” rather capturing their personalities, expression, and moods, usually in the form of a portrait.  The primate habitats are favorite stopping points and he has developed relationships with many of his subjects through the lens of his camera.

John’s work has been featured in the local newspaper and news magazine, several books, including the cover image for “Ape” by Benjamin Beck.  John’s work is also currently featured on the new Association of Zoos and Aquariums website.   

Through his photographs, John hopes to help people appreciate the beauty of the animals and the natural world around them.

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