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How to start out in wildlife photography with Jessie Campbell

Are you a budding wildlife enthusiast with a passion for photography? Jesse Campbell (pronouns: he/him) is a 21-year-old reptile enthusiast. Jesse balances his time as an undergraduate student, studying biology in the final year of his degree at Wollongong University, with his wildlife photography business and content creation on his YouTube channel, Jesse’s WildLife. Jesse has worked with reptiles in various capacities: at zoo facilities such as Symbio Wildlife Park, doing snake relocations and more recently as an ecologist doing fauna surveys. He also works around the conservation and awareness of the Monaro Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis osbornei), an endangered lizard endemic to that area. In this post, we explore Jesse’s journey to work with wildlife, social media and wildlife photography as well as his insights and valuable tips for those looking to embark on their own wildlife adventure.

How to start out in wildlife photography with Jessie Campbell | #itsawildlife


Jesse has a unique perspective on the world of wildlife. Although he grew up afraid of snakes, a sleepover with a mate who kept reptiles changed that once and for all. Jesse started searching around for reptiles and reading about them. He was hooked!


Surprisingly, Jesse didn’t start with a burning passion for photography. Initially he was more focused on just finding reptiles, he gradually found interest in capturing them through a camera lens. He says –

“I was never really passionate about photography. I was more just passionate about reptiles.”

Borrowing his dad’s camera during their expeditions, Jesse discovered the magic of wildlife photography and eventually invested in his equipment. Jesse acknowledges the learning curve in photography. Starting with basic goals like getting the animal in focus, he progressed to experimenting with camera settings, lighting, and composition. Despite the challenges, Jesse emphasizes the rewarding experience of capturing the beauty of wildlife up close. It is a personal journey and Jesse reminds us to explore and focus on what you like doing –

“I tried to figure out what kind of photos I like taking, and what sort of direction I wanted to go.”

While photography has its rewards, Jesse shares that it can be frustrating and tiring at times. To overcome this, he has recently ventured into videography, adding a new dimension to his content creation. Videos allow him to showcase the behavior of animals, providing a different yet equally captivating perspective.

“Sometimes it can get frustrating taking photos – it can get a bit old and a bit irritating at times… Especially if I want to take photos of a snake that doesn’t really want to have its photo taken. So, what I’ve started doing is taking videos instead which is fun.”


Jesse’s work extends beyond capturing stunning images; it serves as a tool for conservation. Through his social media platforms, he aims to raise awareness about lesser-known species like the earless dragon. By sharing the unique features of these creatures, he hopes to raise awareness and contribute to their conservation.

Reflecting on the power of social media, Jesse highlights its role in educating and creating positive change for raising awareness and sharing new ideas or alternative beliefs to what people may have grown up with. He commends the online community for actively participating in the conservation conversation and spreading awareness about misunderstood wildlife especially snakes.

Jesse addresses the misconceptions surrounding snakes, emphasizing the importance of education. Personally, he uses social media to correct misinformation and showcase snakes in their natural behavior, contributing to changing public perceptions.


Jesse’s journey offers valuable insights for those starting in wildlife photography and working with wildlife. He encourages wildlife enthusiasts to:

  • Specialize in your specific interests – go out and spend time in nature looking for fauna or flora, and educate yourself on their background information – their ecology, behaviour, roles and interactions within the ecosystem.

“If you want to work with frogs, learn all about frogs, research on them, you read through the field guides, do all that sort of stuff… and then go out and find them!”

  • Build your network with like-minded individuals through local wildlife groups
  • Consider volunteering to gain hands-on experience.

Interestingly, all of these tips are completely free and most of them can be done wherever you are based in your free time! And, when it comes to wildlife photography, Jesse suggests starting small and building up at your own pace.


Want to hear more from Jesse? You can tune into the podcast or follow his adventures and view his wildlife photography (and videography) on Instagram @jesseswildlife, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. What do you think? why not let us know or follow along for the adventure!

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