For the second time in four years, the photography of Brookfield resident Frank Norton has been honored and displayed at the Brookfield Zoo for capturing zoo animals in their adopted habitats.

Norton’s photo, which displays two gray wolves howling towards the crisp, cold sky, was selected by the zoo as the first place winner in the adult category in their annual Chicago Zoological Society Photo Contest. 

This year alone, close to 200 photographs depicting butterflies, gorillas and snow leopards and other animals were entered into the zoo’s contest. With a panel of four professional photographers as judges, winners were selected for a grand prize and first, second and third place awards in both adult and child (11-under) categories. 

Asked what may have set his winning photo apart from the rest, Norton says the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca’s quote on luck best describes his photo op.

“Seneca says, ‘Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ It was a cold day, therefore, you get the scene, and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go to the wolves.'” Norton said. “I knew the wolves liked that rock, but did I know the wolves were going to do that? No, they do what they do. 

“Getting a good environmental shot in a zoo is difficult, so the final issue is if I could get a situation of action or interaction — that’s what begins to set a picture like this apart.”

While Norton says he was lucky to win the grand prize award in 2011, he says he is still fortunate to have been selected as a top winner this year. 

Even though he began entering the zoo’s contest in the early 2000s, Norton has been an animal lover and amateur photographer for decades.

“This is an interest I’ve had since I was a child,” Norton says. “Back then, it was Polaroids.”

Norton, who has been a veterinarian internist at VCA Berwyn Animal Hospital since 1983, says photography is a great way for him to express his passion for animals, the outdoors and the arts. 

“Photography allows me the best chance to deal with my artistic side,” he said. “I can’t draw worth a hoot, but I have a scientific mind, so I can deal with the technical issues of photography.”

Norton says he’s grateful for winning in the zoo’s contest and encourages locals to remember the wonderful learning and recreational facility in our own backyard.

“I feel fortunate [about winning] and it helps my confidence, but I would encourage everyone to go out there and soak it in,” he added. “The zoo is an available resource for the community.”

The winning photographs from this year’s contest are on display at the zoo’s Feathers and Scales exhibit from now through the end of December. 

They can also be viewed online at www.CZS.org/PhotoContest.