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World Photography Day: 25 year old volunteer finds passion for photography through his love for animals

Thursday 19th August 2021

This World Photography Day, Liam Austin, a volunteer photographer at the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA) shared his experience of photographing a variety of animals at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive which he has done as part of ZSEA’s volunteer scheme for the past two years.

The 25-year-old first took up the art in 2016 after watching a BBC documentary that followed big cats in the Masai Mara in Africa. With that and Liam’s love for animals, his dream was to start photographing animals lives and how they evolve and has since done so at his two local zoos.

Since starting his volunteer role, Liam has learnt a huge amount about a range of animals at the zoos and has found his favourite animal to be the Sri-Lankan Leopards which he now spends hours on end photographing.

Liam, Our Volunteer Photographer for ZSEA

Liam said: “I have spent so much time photographing this animal, both in my role as a volunteer and before this when I was a season ticket holder. I have such a love for the animal as they really intrigue me. There is just something about photographing such a majestic animal.

“These animals just give me such an incredible amount of joy whilst spending hours, days, even weeks, just stood waiting for the perfect photograph and being rewarded with those moments which only me and my camera have managed to capture.”

As well as his love for the magnificent Sri-Lankan Leopard, Liam particularly enjoys photographing birds in flight and when explaining this enjoyment, he said: “Bird photography is something that comes with a lot of practice. It was something I really wanted to master when I first started out and I knew that if I could capture birds in flight, I could photograph anything.

“Some birds such as the Laggar Falcon can reach speeds of up to 60mph which, although sounds challenging, are the easier birds to photograph. But some are more testing such as Gus, the 2-year-old Northern White Faced Owl at Banham Zoo who is harder to capture as he is a smaller species of Owl. With that being said, I’m always looking to challenge myself with these more difficult shots.”

Liam manages to juggle his volunteer photography role at the zoos with his full-time job as a farmer, something which comes with a lot of long days and hard work all year round.

Liam added: “I start early to be able to give myself time after work to go to the zoos and with Banham being closer to home, it allows me to spend a good few hours with my camera and the animals. That few hours spent with the animals is a way to relax at the end of a hard day doing something that I love.

“Most people think I’m crazy for wanting to spend extra time working after I’ve finished a full day on the farm, but to get to where you want to be in life, you have to put in the time and effort and pushing myself is the only way to do that!”

Liam, Our Volunteer Photographer for ZSEA

Volunteers at the Zoological Society of East Anglia often find that spending time outside around the animals can be a great benefit to their mental health, allowing them the time to connect with nature and switch off from the stresses of everyday life.

Liam said: “Photography really helps with my mental health. Being with the camera and doing what I love most brings the best out of me as a person. I went through a tough time during 2020, but I found that spending time at the zoos and my photography gave me something to focus on and take my mind off things.

“When you are doing what makes you happy, it always makes you feel great and that’s what photography does to me.”

Claudia Roberts, CEO at The Zoological Society of East Anglia, said: “It has been a delight to have Liam work with us over the past couple of years, and we are always so impressed to see the images he captures of all of our beautiful animals.

“As a charity, we are so thankful for the continued support of all of our volunteers, from our gardeners to our volunteer zookeepers, to the lovely Liam as our volunteer photographer. We couldn’t continue our fantastic work without this and value our volunteers for the time that they provide us each day.”

To view more of Liam’s photography, visit his Instagram page on:

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