The Wild Arena business was founded in 2003, by a small group of experienced photographers and tutors with a long standing background in the photography and animal industries. We all have a passion for photography, animals and passing on our knowledge to inspire other photographers.

Our simple goal is to provide workshops and tours for customers which they’ll love so much they’ll want to come back again. We aim to achieve this by sharing our experience and knowledge of what we do.

Whilst we offer events right across the country, we are based in the heart of Knowsley Safari Park and with the only dedicated natural history macro studio in the country. We can also offer unique 1-to-1 and small group sessions to help our guests achieve their photographic objectives. The training room & studio complex is also fully equipped with a wide variety of learning and demonstration facilities including sponsored areas from Manfrotto & Elinchrom.

Wild Arena has also provided all of the photographic events at Woburn Safari Park for the past 10 years and has worked with many other specialised collections around the country.

Wild Arena goals

 At Wild Arena we aim to offer personal, expert advice and educational support for developing photographers within a range of events to provide great photography and learning experiences. Our simple goal is to help our customers further their photographic journeys whilst showing empathy for their subjects and the environment. We believe the route of this journey is as important as the destination.

We strive to deliver this by enabling our customers to take great pictures in rewarding situations with the support they need, be that technical, physical or emotional.

We actively support wildlife conservation and protection by working closely with other organisations such as BIAZA. Many of our workshops and tours directly benefit partner organisations so by booking with us you are helping them to keep animals safe in the wild by financially supporting their activities.

All the guides at Wild Arena are, professional photographers, wildlife experts or have years of seasoned experience as enthusiasts. They all share a passion for photography and sharing their knowledge with others. Across the team we have a variety of specialised skills and we work hard to constantly develop and update our collective knowledge.

We believe strongly in giving all of our guests the individual time they need, and so always ensure we have enough guides on hand to provide help and advice for all.  Our aim is to give everyone the level of support they wish for, at all times. Similarly, with all Wild Arena tours, we ensure each group is accompanied by a member of our team together with knowledgeable local guides to enhance the experience of our guests. Please click on the guides name to be taken to their website to see their work.

David Southard

Managing Director & Video specialist

I have worked in the photographic industry for over 30 years and have always been involved in Wildlife. After studying photography at college, I started taking Natural History image making seriously in 1986 when working as an assistant cameraman for a specialist wildlife filmmaker. During this time I concentrated on technical macro work including time lapse and studio lighting. I have photographed many subjects both in the UK and overseas and since then I’ve made many friends in the photographic and wildlife communities. I have been involved in management and photography training with a number of major photographic companies and also in event management since 1997. I founded Wild Arena in 2003 with the idea of sharing my knowledge with others and utilising my contacts in the photographic industry and zoological institutions to provide informative workshops with special access to a wide variety of interesting subjects.

I am also an ambassador for Manfrotto, working with them on training and development with a particular focus on video convergence and studio lighting. I have been widely published in the photographic press having contributed to a many titles over a number of years.

Janet Southard

Executive Director & Macro specialist

I’ve been interested in wildlife and photography forever, through my dad giving me my first camera when I was 13 and always having animals around. I studied photography at college and worked in animal care at an animal rescue centre in Surrey. More recently I’ve been involved in customer service and have extensive experience at making things run smoothly for clients – a very useful asset when working with the less organized guides at Wild Arena!

I previously worked with film, medium format and black & white photography and now concentrate on Canon D-SLR equipment. I’m particularly interested in photographs showing animal behaviour and interaction. I’m also responsible for much of the development of Wild Arena’s own animal collection and currently care for 29 different species in our studio workshop. But importantly I’m also responsible for Branston and Baloo, the company’s lovable dogs, who are often seen snuffling around the cars at many of our workshops.

I have been working as a guide with Wild Arena since 2006 and have been the official photographer at Knowsley Safari park since 2012. I’m also involved in wedding & social photography and undertake other professional assignments throughout the year for a number of commercial clients.

Kevin Lunham

Tour Guide & Nikon Expert

I completed a photographic degree many years ago and worked in the commercial sector specialising in food photography.  I then moved into Photoshop manipulation when this was in its infancy, before becoming the technical director of a creative agency.

I’ve always been interested in wildlife photography since my aunt bought me my first camera as a young boy. I’m now working full time as a wildlife photographer and guide, regularly having work published in a number of publications.

I’m an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and live in the Cambridgeshire Fens but I love to travel to some of the colder places on earth, especially in Northern Europe. When I’m not out taking photographs I work as a field ecologist, monitoring and managing some of the UK’s most endangered wildlife

Neil McIntyre

Wild Arena Guest Guide Scotland

I am indeed blessed to be able to call home one of the most stunning areas in the UK, the Cairngorms National Park, where I run my wildlife photography tours  and image library. Both focus on a wide range of iconic species and locations near to my home and throughout the rest of Scotland.

My work is widely published and used in many national magazines like the BBC Wildlife magazine and national newspapers. Organisations like the Scottish Natural Heritage, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and the John Muir Trust are also amongst my clients. In addition to these, my images have also featured in over 25 books.

Over the years I have been fortunate to have won several awards in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition including the Eric Hoskings Award in two consecutive years, I have also been a category runner up and had a further four images highly commended. In the British Wildlife Photography Awards I won the portraits category with an image of a red deer stag, with a further 4 other images having been highly commended in that competition to date.

My thought process and why I take pictures is a simple one, basically it’s my feel and vision of the things that I have seen in the wild. A single image which allows me to share these never to be repeated moments with others. It is a real privilege to call myself a wildlife photographer and I feel duty bound to show our wildlife and wild places in the most compassionate and visually compelling way I can. There is no better feeling than having these magical moments; when you have that one to one encounter with a wild otter and it never even knew you were there, or standing on top of towering sea cliff looking out over a glistening sea with thousands of seabirds thronging around you. The sights, the sounds, the smells all make up the experience that stir the soul and are all part of the image making,  “take what you feel not what you see”.

Oliver Wright

Wild Arena Guest Guide Macro

I’m a professional photographer with my time split between Leeds (UK) and Abisko (Sweden), where I work full time as a photography guide.

I’m extremely passionate about photography and I’m multi disciplined in numerous photographic subjects.

For the last four consecutive years my wildlife and macro work has been in the British Wildlife Photography Awards.  I’ve been in the national press numerous times and also in BBC Wildlife, New Scientist, Digital Photography and Grand Designs magazine.  I have been flown out to Switzerland to photograph a wedding.  In the last 12 months I have done numerous talks about my photography which I really enjoy doing.

My goal in photography, as well as in life is; “to ensure that everything is done as well as it can be” and therefore I try to constantly learn and push my boundaries.

My other passions in my life is my pet Bouvier Eersel.  I’m at times a keen scuba diver (I’ve dived all over the world Hawaii, Gozo, Sri Lanka, Egypt and The Galapagos to name a few) and mountaineer (my highlights are probably climbing the Matterhorn, Illimani in Bolivia and being in the British Climbing team).

Raj Khepar

Wild Arena Guest Guide Photoshop

I’m a photographer, retoucher and furniture maker based in the UK. I’m also a Canon Pro Imaging Technical Expert! I take on all kinds of work alongside my personal projects including commercial clients (covering all kinds of campaigns from stop motion animation to print ads), events and weddings, corporate headshots and product photography.

I am a self confessed nerd that is happiest when creating something new across multiple mediums.  I love finding new challenges so that I might learn something new. I started photography in school, as it was pretty much the only way for me to be creative, I really couldn’t draw! It was a hobby that I only took seriously once I picked up some studio lights for a bargain price. I’ve been playing around with lighting ever since. I graduated from the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham in 2013 having earned a BaHons in Photography. University helped develop my story telling. And while I was there I was able to teach other students studio and location lighting techniques. I have since been freelancing, taking on work for a variety of companies doing family portraiture, making marketing materials for different products and shooting headshots.

Mission Statement

We offer personal, expert advice and educational support for developing photographers within a range of  events to provide great photography opportunities and learning experiences. Our simple aim is to help our customers further their photographic journeys whilst showing empathy for their subjects and the environment. We believe the route of this journey is as important as the destination.

We strive to deliver this by enabling our customers to take great pictures in rewarding situations with the support they need, be that technical, physical or emotional. We are passionate about high quality image making together with furthering a better understanding of our natural world.

We also aim to provide a secure environment that values, inspires and encourages all owners, staff and associates.

Environmental Policy

The Wild Arena business operates a universal policy of minimal printed materials, concentrating where possible on electronic communication. This includes both internal communications within the Wild Arena team, communication with our partners/suppliers and our guests. Any printing that is unavoidable is completed on recycled consumables.

Animal Ethics

Wild Arena (and all associated employees and staff) are committed to the welfare and proper husbandry of all the animals within our care and influence. We always have this commitment as a priority above ALL other considerations.

We aim to always have a clear view on the origin of the animals that we source, aiming to only hold captive breed examples sourced from individuals or companies that share our high standards.

The business is committed to the on going training and development of staff placed in charge of animals and we operate a qualifications scheme with Compass Education (backed by LANTRA and the NCFE).

Regulatory/Industry bodies

  • BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums)
  • Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
  • Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers

Insurance

Trading and Liability insurance with RSA (Brooks Braithwaite).

FSB Incorporated Legal protection insurance with Abbey Legal Protection

Licensing

All required species are licensed under DEFRA regulations.

Current licenses are in place for ‘Article 10’ birds of prey. Current species:

  • Lapland Great Grey Owl
  • Barn Owl
  • Tawny Owl
  • Little Owl
  • Kestral

Current zoo and exotic licensing is covered by;

  • The Animal Welfare (licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (license 19/00498)

Full information can be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2018/9780111165485

The Wild Arena business currently operates with a number of key industry partners:

  • Knowsley Safari Park
  • Woburn Safari Park
  • The Living Rainforest
  • Stratford butterfly Farm

We have previously worked with:

  • Marwell Wildlife
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park
  • The Wildfowl & Wetland Trust
  • The Hawk Conservancy Trust
  • The British Wildlife Centre
  • The English School of Falconry

Business Policy

The Wild Arena business endeavors to operate with a strong ethical compass and function in a fair, moral and just manner.

We have been registered as a limited company since 12th February 2003, and are fully VAT registered.

We carry full employee and public liability insurance with ‘Brookes Braithwaite Ltd’ and operate within all known legal requirements.