Tips from a Professional Bird Photographer

Our WA parks provide habitat that supports an amazing variety of birdlife. In recent months we have been fortunate to be able to share some amazing bird photos taken by Lea Scaddan, a lecturer at a local tertiary institution. Bird photography became a main interest of hers three years ago, when Galahs visited her backyard after she installed a birdbath.

Lea took photos of them and found their behaviour fascinating and this led her to start exploring her local parks for birds to photograph.

WA Parks Foundation asked Lea to share some tips on photographing birds.

  1. Where are some of your favourite parks to visit to take bird photos and why are they good places for bird photography? 

Yanchep National Park is always a good spot for birds and simply stunning when the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos visit. Some of my favourite spots to see birds in action are Herdsman Lake, Lake Joondalup, Burns Beach, Kings Park and Wireless Hill. I love water birds, especially because you can get great water-related shots.

  1. What tips can you recommend for a beginner bird photographer?

You don’t have to venture far from home to do bird photography. Use your longest lens, study the environment in which the birds live in and observe their behaviour. Make sure you photograph them in good light. It is highly recommended to get an annual National Park pass so you can have unlimited access to these wonderful places.

  1. Tell us an interesting story behind getting one of your favourite photos.

    Rainbow Bee-eater. Photo: Lea Scaddan

I took this photo of two Rainbow Bee-eaters at Lake Joondalup recently. They migrate to Perth for the summer. They are fascinating to watch with their acrobatic flights, creating their nests by burrowing into the ground, catching insects mid-flight and banging bees on branches to get the stings out. I love this shot because of the look on the left bird’s face. Every photo tells a story and this photo was recently published in National Geographic 2018 Photo Contest “50 of the Most Incredible Photos”.

  1. If any, what awards, recognition have you received for your photos? 

In addition to the above-mentioned photo contest win, I have been awarded:

  • Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2017 category runner-up
  • The West Australian ‘Show Us Your Summer’ winner
  • Editor’s favourite, National Geographic 2018
  • Birdlife Photography Best of 2017 Advanced Level – Commended
  • Winner and finalist in several Perth council and calendar competitions

Lea is passionate about wildlife photography and has travelled to the ends of the earth to capture many special moments through her camera lens. She loves exploring new locations and spending a lot of time researching, observing and sitting in the field to understand more about the ecosystem. Thanks Lea for sharing your photos and your tips.