The Columbus Zoo's award-winning photographer shares the stories behind some of his favorite images.
Grahm Jones has one of the best jobs in Central Ohio. Since 2002, the Columbus native has been the staff photographer for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, spending his days documenting the many exotic inhabitants of the zoo and its sister attraction, The Wilds. In December, Jones took top honors in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums 2017 photo contest with a stunning image of polar bear Anana swimming with her cub Amelia Gray. How did he get the shot? It required him to lean out of a keeper's access door above the pool and to shoot straight down. That's pretty much par for the course for Jones, whose job requires plenty of guile and creativity. He recently shared with Columbus Monthly the stories behind some of his favorite shots.
The Need for Speed
“For this shot, I got down at eye level and photographed the cat rounding the turn on the course. These cats are not only fast, but amazingly agile, which I think this photo does a good job showing. It's also worth noting that I had an animal handler right behind me, just in case the cat decided the photographer was more interesting than the lure.”
Nora's Star Turn
“I've had the chance to see and do a lot of amazing things here at the zoo. But one that I think is the most unique was documenting Nora's story in 2015–16, because for the first five or so months of her life the public couldn't see her. Everything the world saw of her was through our eyes.”
A Hairy Situation
“Sometimes animals are more curious than you necessarily want them to be, as in this case when a giraffe decided to give Amanda Carberry, the zoo's media productions assistant, a new hairdo.”
“I have the advantage of being able to get video of the manatees from their side of the acrylic.”
“Until her death last year, Colo was one of my favorite animals to photograph. She had so much personality and always would let you know she was in charge. I was shooting from a keeper catwalk above the indoor habitat when she climbed up onto a high perch to get a better look at what I was doing.”
A Nice View
“A big part of what we do is to document the guest experience.”