Parrots, owls and budgerigars: the woman who takes portraits of birds

'Seisa', Palm Cockatoo, Probosciger aterrimus.
'Seisa', Palm Cockatoo, Probosciger aterrimus. Photo: From Birdland, copyright Leila J

Photographer Leila Jeffreys has had a fascination with animals and birds since she was a young girl.

"My dad loved the outdoors so my brother and I, by default, had a pretty outdoorsy upbringing," she said.

'Neville', Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Lophochroa leadbeateri.
'Neville', Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Lophochroa leadbeateri. Photo: From Birdland, copyright Leila J

Her recently published photography book Birdland is a collection of detailed portraits of birds, set against clean backdrops.

The minimalist compositions guide the eye to the details of the birds – the layering of plumage, the complex and varied textures of feathers and the tonal variation in their often-bold markings.

'Tani', Australian masked owl, Tyto novaehollandiae.
'Tani', Australian masked owl, Tyto novaehollandiae. Photo: From Birdland, copyright Leila J

Trained as a photographer, Jeffreys moved away from commercial work to be a photographic artist.

"A passion for birds started to drive me to travel to places where I could marvel at wildlife and, of course, a camera came with me," she said.


Working with birds meant finding wildlife carers willing to assist Jeffreys in her quest. Having a good interaction with each bird was very important for Jeffreys in capturing a good portrait.

"Looking through the book is a bit like looking through a family album. There are deep, personal memories on every page," she said.

"The hardest portrait to capture is one where a bird is not engaging with me or where a bird won't keep still! Finches are a great example of this, they are so hard to photograph!"

"Most humans live such urban lives, so I hope this is a reminder of a connection we have to wildlife."

Birdland by Leila Jeffreys is published by Hachette Australia, RRP $49.99.