The Wild Arena business was founded in 2003, by a small group of experienced and expert image making professionals. The original concept was to provide a range of events to offer both facilitated opportunities for great pictures and a relaxed and rewarding learning environment for our guests. We aim to deliver these services in a professional manner and we are passionate about sharing our knowledge to help others achieve their personal photographic goals.

Whilst we offer events right around 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. We also have options for image download and a 50” Plasma screen for reviewing work. There is even an outside seating area for breaks with beautiful views across the Safari Park reserves. Public transport links to us are good with a mainline station only a few miles away.

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.

The business also has deep roots in the wider photographic industry and we partner Canon UK at many events through the year. Team members are also involved in the Manfrotto international ambassador program, supporting Lee Filters, and working with Elinchrom lighting along with many other industry partners.

Wild Arena goals

 At Wild Arena we aim to offer personal, expert advice and educational support for developing photographers within a range of facilitated events to provide image-making opportunities 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 are passionate about high quality image making together with furthering a better understanding of our natural world.

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.

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

Our watch words are; Experience, Expertise, Empathy & Enjoyment

Mission Statement

We offer personal, expert advice and educational support for developing photographers within a range of facilitated events to provide image-making 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.

Our watch words are: Experience, Expertise, Empathy, Enjoyment

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)
  • International Society of Animal Professionals

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 largely covered by;

  • The 1976 ‘Dangerous Animals Act’. (We do not hold any species currently covered by this legislation).

Full information can be found at:

  • The 1981 ‘Zoo licensing Act’. (We do not currently full within this legislation).

Full details can be viewed at:

The species Wild Arena currently holds are house and cared for in line with BIAZA guidelines which can be viewed at:

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.

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.

We are also fortunate to work with a number of wonderful guest guides on some of our events, each an expert in their sphere. For example, nature photographer Neil McIntyre, who specialises in photographing Scottish wildlife and landscapes, leads our tours in Scotland.

David Southard

Director & Video specialist

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

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

When David manages to find the time he still likes to visit special wild places to explore photographically. Scandinavia is a particular favorite of David’s and he usually visits 2 or 3 times a year. His photograph of Bodari the ‘King Bear’ made it through to the finals of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.

Wouldn’t Leave Home without

My main camera bodies are a Canon 5D MKIII and a Canon C300 which I love as they are good for everything, when it comes to birds and animals, my ‘standard’ lens is 600mm f4L, which sits nicely above the new 100-400mm f4-5.6L zoom. For more spontaneous pictures a 100mm 2.8L macro always opens up lots of potential for detail pictures and 24-70mm f4L and a set of Lee Filters sort out the landscapes. I’m never without at least one Gitzo tripod to keep the camera steady and I’m kept warm and dry in a range of Paramo clothing.

If I need to travel light, my favorite ‘compact’ is the Sony A7s, which produces terrific video and low light stills in a very small, full frame sensor body. For ‘4K’ video this gets used with an Atomos Shogun external recorder and a Metabones adapter lets me use all of our range of Canon EF lenses.

Favorite Recent Project

I have recently been working on lots of video projects and have been shooting stock footage for a number of ongoing ideas. A recent trip to Finland produced some superb ‘4K’ footage, pushing the quality boundaries of our video output.  This project was shot on a Sony A7s recording on an Atomos shogun.

Janet Southard

Director & Macro specialist

Janet has been interested in wildlife and photography for many years, having studied photography at college and worked in animal care at an animal rescue centre in Surrey. More recently she has been involved in customer service and has extensive experience at making things run smoothly for clients – a very useful asset when working with the less organized guides at Wild Arena!

Having previously worked with film, medium format and black & white photography, she now concentrates on Canon D-SLR equipment and is particularly interested in photographs showing animal behavior and interaction. Janet is also responsible for much of the development of Wild Arena’s own animal collection and she currently cares for 29 different species in our studio workshop. She is also responsible for Branston and Baloo, the company’s lovable dogs, who are often seen snuffling around the Land Rover at many of our workshops.

Janet has been working as a guide with Wild Arena since 2006 and she has been the official photographer at Knowsley Safari park since 2012. She is also involved in wedding & social photography and undertakes other professional assignments throughout the year for a number of commercial clients.You can normally find Janet on a variety of Wild Arena’s one-day workshops and European tours. She is also one of the main contacts in the office and studio at Knowsley.

Wouldn’t Leave Home Without

At the heart of my camera bag is my much-loved Canon EOS 1DX mkii. This has become a firm favorite thanks to its intuitive controls, high ISO performance and superb full frame image quality. My general preference for behavior pictures or images of animals in a wider environment means that a combination of a new 100-400mm f4/5.6L and 600mm f4L are perfect. For the longer lenses I am also rarely without my Gitzo tripod and Wimberly Mk II head. Being prone to feeling the cold I am always wrapped up in my Paramo Torres smock and Aspira trousers.

Favourite Recent Project

As our range of animals continues to expand in the studio, I have been shooting images of lots of new species. New additions like the Rainbow Frog Beetles have been a real challenge as they are relatively small, but the resulting images have been beautifully colorful and full of detail. I have also been working more at magnifications greater than life size using the Canon MPE-65 macro lens fitted to a Manfrotto focusing rail system for greater accuracy.

David Fidler

Guide, Canon & Long Lens Expert

David has been involved in the photographic industry for over 20 years. After completing his degree in photography he worked in London specializing in commercial images.

He currently works for a leading photographic company, which helps fuel his passion for wildlife and landscapes. David has recently been working with Wild Arena bringing his training skills, vast DSLR knowledge, fieldcraft techniques and friendly Geordie personality to the team

Kevin Lunham

Guide & Nikon Expert

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

He’s always been interested in wildlife photography since his aunt bought him his first camera as a young boy. He’s now working full time as a wildlife photographer and guide, regularly having work published in a number of publications. He has worked with the team at Wild Arena for a number of years and is usually found guiding some of our more remote European tours.

Kevin is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and lives in the Cambridgeshire Fens but loves to travel to some of the colder places on earth, especially in Northern Europe.

Neil McIntyre

Wild Arena Guest Guide

Award winning photographer Neil McIntyre is based near Aviemore in the heart of The Cairngorms National Park, where he has lived for the past 30 years. Specializing in Scottish wildlife and landscapes, Neil devotes a large amount of time to his local area and wildlife such is the abundance of opportunities the area offers. Frequent trips to the West Highlands are another favorite.

Neil’s work appears in a wide range of magazines and books, amongst others BBC Wildlife and The Field magazine. Organizations like Scottish Natural Heritage and the Cairngorms National Park are also regular clients.

Neil is also a past winner and has had numerous highly commended pictures in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. He is currently working on a new book venture, Scotland Wildlife & Landscapes.