How two brothers took to their garage to build the latest in wildlife photography

By Helin Jung
Updated April 27, 2010 05:01 PM

In order to build the latest innovation in wildlife animal photography, Matthew and William Burrard-Lucas turned to YouTube.

The brothers, 20 and 26, respectively, spent part of their childhood in Tanzania and Hong Kong, and have been taking pictures of wildlife for as long as they could remember.

But William, a professional photographer, and Matthew, a student, both based in London, had been dreaming about a new type of wildlife photograph, one that would take them up to the very paws of the lions they wanted to capture. They would need to build a new gadget, and the techies (both science majors) would learn how to construct it by watching videos of robotics online.

“There’s quite a lot you can learn from the Internet,” William tells

About $1,500 and five months of tinkering in the garage later, the Burrard-Lucases had given life to the BeetleCam, a DSLR camera fixed on top of a four-wheel drive buggy, operated by a remote control.

In August 2009, they traveled to Tanzania, and had some interesting (and alarming) encounters with lions, elephants and African buffalo.

“It’s quite a steep learning curve,” William says. “The animals were quite curious.”

It may not have been curiosity that drove a lion to maul the BeetleCam and tear it apart. Luckily, the shocked brothers were able to piece the device back together with their other camera, plus the help of some “wood and string and things.”

After arriving back home in London, the brothers discovered that their simple contraption had managed to capture some amazing shots. Now that they know what works and what they want to do better, they’ll be building a second BeetleCam and traveling with it later this year.

“It certainly exceeded our expectations,” William says. “It’s something that’s got a lot more potential, so we’re certainly going to do more with it.”

Check out more of the BeetleCam’s amazing photographs in our gallery.

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