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incomplete dictionary of show birds


BY WALL DONE, 16/09/2010

‘It's very simple really: I just want to show them at their best, to show how beautiful they are.’

Luke Stephenson was born in 1983 in Darlington in the North East of England and is now based In London. He studied at the Blackpool and Fylde College. His work has been published in numerous magazines, like Portfolio, Dazed and Confused. Capricious, Nico and Vice Magazine.

'When I first started, with the series Budgies, I was quite naive thinking I could go along and have them sit on someone’s finger and just photograph them against a white wall. When I arrived for the first shoot, the owner told me that was never going to happen. Luckily he had a little cage to put them in and I was able to get some shots. Also the budgies are easier to photograph because they’re quite lazy.

Since then, over the last few years, l‘ve been researching and developing the way I photograph the birds. I learnt quite a lot about the criteria for judging the show birds and when I showed the budgie images to someone that knew about birds they really didn’t like them. People in photography always got excited about them, but not bird-lovers. I also found out about a famous bird photographer Dennis Avon, and tried to learn from the way that he set up his shots. Although I didn't really know how he did it, I got some ideas from looking at his images.
The theory about photographing birds, is that they will go to the highest point they can find to sit on. So if you give them a box with a single high point to sit on, they will generally rest there.

I’m not really a technical photographer. I approach It more like someone tinkering around in their shed and making do with what they've got. I find it interesting to try and figure out ways of doing things that are more sparing and economical.

These birds all belong to avid bird breeders who have been keeping birds their whole lives. This is a hobby of a close-knit community who you don’t generally come into contact with unless you are active within their world. I personally do not keep birds, but I find them to be beautiful in all their variations and colours they captivated me as a subject matter and I wanted to capture them in a way that would show them off at their best. There are many recognised criteria to breeding a prize-winning bird, from shape and form to its pattern. This is something I have tried to convey through my work. I also regard it as a priority of this series to encapsulate their personalities.'

All images © Luke Stephenson

Wall done MAGAZINE