Leila Jeffreys (born 1972, Papua New Guinea) is an Australian photographic and video artist. She began documenting birds by way of photographic portraiture in 2008, working alongside conservationists, ornithologists and bird sanctuaries. Through extensive research and travel, with long periods of waiting on her subjects, she is able to separate these wonderful creatures from their natural surroundings and photograph them with the highest degree of technical skill.
Leila Jeffreys' series of works include Bioela Wild Cockatoo 2012, Prey 2014 (birds of prey) and Ornithurae 2017 (cockatoos, doves and pigeons). In addition to rare, endangered and more commoplance species, Jeffreys has also photographed the budgerigar – a commonplace bird in its native country of Australia. A wish to convey that the beauty of small birds is often overlooked led Jeffreys to photograph the budgerigar, in the series entitled High Society 2019, with a similar approach given to a human portrait. Leila Jeffreys wrote of the series: 'It is the result of more than five years of planning and commitment; a pledge to making the impossible possible. It began when I noticed how a flock of native Australian budgerigars look like leaves on a tree. Looking closer I saw individuals, couples, and families – a secret High Society'.
'(Leila's) images are simultaneously serious and witty, gentle and impactful; technically, they are quite miraculous. Her rapport with her subjects, her technical ingenuity, her eye for colour, form and composition and her expertise in the processes of fine art photography combine to create singular works that have often - alas - been imitated but have never come close to being equalled'. (Dr Sarah Engledow, Historian and Curator - National Portrait Gallery of Australia)
Following her award-winning book Interview With A Cockatoo (or Two) 2012, a monongraph was published on her work: Birdland 2016, Hatchette Australia/New Zealand and the same book under the title Bird Love 2016, Abrams Books, USA/UK. In Australia Birdland was shortlisted for the Australian Book Designers Association Awards and was Highly Commended in Photobook Melbourne's Australian Photobook of the Year category. In the USA Bird Love received an Award of Excellence in the Photography Books category of the Communication Arts Photography Annual. In 2020 Editions Xavier Barral published Leila Jeffreys with a text by ornithologist Guilhem Lesaffre: the latest in their series Des Oiseaux.
In 2019 Leila Jeffreys undertook her first expedition to the Arctic Circle at the invitation of British historian and explorer Dr Huw Lewis-Jones, where she encountered one of the most untouched and fragile parts of the world. Such opportunities to travel and experience wildlife in their natural habitat fuel both her creativity and her sense of urgency to protect it.
A major exhibiton, Leila Jeffreys Birdland, was shown in 2021 at the Manly Art Gallery and Museum, NSW. She has exhibited her work in public art displays at Sydney's Taronga Zoo and the iconic Bergdorf Goodman department store, New York.