8-Year-Old Boy Becomes a Nat Geo Photographer For a Day

An eight-year-old boy who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia had his wish come true when he was invited to a wildlife sanctuary to become a National Geographic photographer for a day.

Many travel and wildlife photographers are eager to shoot for National Geographic, and the eight-year-old Oban Birmingham from Connecticut was no exception, reports ABC7. He is a lymphoma patient, first diagnosed in October 2020, and passionate about nature — particularly endangered Florida panthers — and wished to be a wildlife photographer despite his diagnosis.

Making a Photography Dream Come True

To help him fulfill his dream, Make-a-Wish South Florida, an organization that creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses, arranged for Birmingham to spend a day with National Geographic photographer Carlton Ward at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Southwest Florida. Birmingham got to enjoy an exclusive tour and was able to use Ward’s camera to capture the wildlife.

His father, Tom Birmingham, described the day out as extra special for his son, and photographer Ward was moved by the time shared as well. Having spent a day with Oban, who’s the same age as one of his children, Ward enjoyed sharing places he cares about so much, particularly because it was such a personal one-to-one experience not merely through a TV screen or a magazine.

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary reports that Birmingham didn’t get to see a much anticipated Florida panther during his day out shooting, but he got to see many birds, alligators, deer, raccoons, and other animals and plants. He also got to learn more about the trail cameras that Ward uses to get natural and undisturbed photography of wildlife.

When asked for his favorite thing about nature, Birmingham responded, “how beautiful it is.”

Similar once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like a week-long trip capturing the Netherlands in full bloom, are regularly organized by Make-A-Wish to help improve the emotional health of children battling critical illnesses. Birmingham is now in remission.