"That looks so easy! I bet I could do take photos like those. They are just chickens after all." Yes, I had those exact thoughts. If you are truly honest with yourself, you may also have had those same or similar thoughts. We've all seen those perfect pictures, with the bird standing just right, the background painting a marvelous story, and everything is in focus. A simple Google search will present you with so many of those amazing photos. Well, reality check. For everyone of those perfect pictures there is at least a dozen or more "oops" shots. So, I thought I would offer up some discoveries I have made along with some personal experiences for those not yet familiar with the difficulties of photographing chickens.
(It only took about 10-15 shots and about 15-20 minutes to get this shot.
He may look poised, but he is very flighty)
That 1 in a 1000 shot!
Most good photographers make their job look easy. Well, it's not! As an armature photographer (and that is putting it nicely) I have discovered that more pictures end up in the trash than anywhere else. The digital age has made bad photos more abundant. The ability to skip the development/printing step means that photos can be viewed long before ink ever touches paper, if it ever does. We all know what that means, "click-crazy" photo sessions. Case-in-point, the above picture.
The above picture is of Ichabod Crane. I really wanted this rooster for my breeding group, but my devoted husband (DH) was against the addition of another rooster. I didn't really need him, there were three good roosters in the yard already, but he was just so pretty. Well, I knew I would need a very good picture to prove how awesome he was since DH wasn't with me when I saw him. So, I commenced with an impromptu photo session. With camera phone in hand and an over inflated sense of photography skill I started snapping shot after shot. The poor bird didn't have a clue that I wanted to give him a bunch of new girlfriends. All he knew was that this "insane/crazy woman" was in his space, and he wanted to get away. Every couple of shots I would step back and see if anything was worth keeping. It was a bunch of nope. Most of the pictures were blurry or distorted in some way. Afterwards I would continue, determined to get just the right shot to prove to DH that I "needed" this rooster. I eventually got the shot you see, but I almost missed it. In my frustration I was about to give up and put away the phone and rely on my persuasive talking abilities. It was at that moment he stopped "freaking out" just long enough to get off one more shot. Good thing too, DH is starting to become immune to my "persuasive" chicken talk. LOL!
Chickens Can Be Camera Shy Too!
It never failed. I would bring the camera to photograph some of my hens and the same ones who were always around any other time wouldn't be there. I had one hen who was such a master at hiding that I once spent nearly an hour searching for her with my camera. Fearing that a predator had gotten her I sent the camera inside with my oldest son and started searching more intently. No sooner had the door closed with the camera safely inside, did she come strolling confidently into the yard.
Chickens ARE Mobile
They just won't stay still. This fact has been one of my biggest challenges. A mobile chicken makes for an odd picture. Their mobility usually means that the picture could make it appear as if important appendages are missing. I lost count how many times I took a "good" picture just to view it later and the bird's head is missing from the shot. Other occasions I ended up with beautiful pictures of scenery that had a chicken in the frame only moments before.
If you think taking "baby" pictures is easy. Well, you're wrong. The younger birds are seemingly more mobile than their adult counterparts. The above duckling kept running away, hiding under me, and just plain moving. I spent about 30 minutes and took close to 100 shots with only 4 usable pictures. In the following picture you will note the duckling with the missing head. He is just preening, but his timing couldn't be worse.
Just Because They Look At You Doesn't Mean They Want Their Picture Taken
Finally... Distance is you picture taking ally
If you have a camera with a high-powered zoom/telephoto lens... use it. Close proximity doesn't always mean good pictures. Sometimes it just means distracted chicken. If you want the natural look and beauty of your chicken subjects then stay back. I don't know about your chickens, but when mine see me they have one of two thoughts... "egg thief" or "food-bringer."
Photography can be fun and enjoyable. Just remember that sometimes your subjects aren't always at their most photographic. They can bad-feather days, egghausted days, and just plain grouchy moments. They may be chickens, but their personalities shine through (both good and bad) in the pictures you enjoy taking of them. And remember, if you aren't happy with the picture that delete button works wonders. Or, you could share your "bad-feather" moments with the rest of your online bird loving flock. Happy picture taking.
Here are a few more pictures of chickens who didn't want their picture taken.