View Full Version : Photographing Dead Birds & Animals

Richard Kowalski
02-14-2008, 03:40 PM
I curious as to other's thoughts on photographing dead creatures.

This morning I posted "Love **was** in the air" in Out of the Box ( http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?p=33185#post33185 ) . It is an image of two Anna's Hummingbirds that were very much alive and at least the male was feeling at the top of his game... A few people expressed concern that the birds were dead. I can assure you they definitely were NOT!

Anyway, this got me thinking. As with anyone that spends any time out in nature, I see my share of dead birds and animals. I often make a few images if I can find a way to show the creature in an interesting, nobel or yes, even in an attractive manner. While at the Bosque Del Apache in January, the nights were getting down to 10F and there were plenty of dead Snow Geese along with a few cranes. I did make a number of images. On my recent trip to Buenos Aires NWR, we came across a bird carcass that had blown up into a thorny bush. It was just hanging there, blowing in the wind. I made a handful of images and moved on.

Now please don't misunderstand me and think I have a morbid curiosity about death because I don't. Death is a fact of life and is all too common with wildlife. I know how far removed people are today from death and many find the thought of death, much less images of it, highly disturbing.

I'm wondering if this activity is uncommon and am interested in other's opinions about posting images like these here.

Thank you for your *thoughtful & well considered* input.

Rosl Roessner
02-14-2008, 04:27 PM
Hi Richard,
I am going to answer, because I wrote one of the comments to your image.
Of course is the death part of the life. And of course someone has to make pictures of dead creatures. Sometimes it helps to safe lots of lifes, when people were confontated with birds dying by accidents, illegal commerce or something else.
It's only the fact, that it is my hobby where I want to relax and enjoy life, that makes me being a kind of shocked, when I saw that picture.
There is nothing wrong with pictures of dead birds but there is so much pain and cruelty in our daily news and sometimes in our lifes, that I don't like to mix it up with my leisure time, because I feel too sad and depressed, when I see those pictures.
- Only my personal opinion and I hope my english is sufficient for understanding what I want to express-

Fabs Forns
02-14-2008, 04:38 PM
I personally avoid those. If I know a thread or image will hurt my sensibility, I stay away.

Jim Poor
02-14-2008, 04:44 PM
Great thread! If it is done in a way that shows dignity or beauty then I'm all for it. I'm not against other depictions of dead animals either, but that really depends on the impact you want to have.

There was a picture on another site of a dead bird (want to say eagle or hawk) that had been struck by a vehicle. It was amazingly powerful, yet disturbing,

In Artie's book there is a series of images that left me a total basket case for a whole evening. It started with a beautiful touching moment in one of those "she looks like she's sleeping" sort of ways. That was sad and powerful. The series went on to record more that I found disturbing with a finale that just made my jaw drop and tears flow.

Pictures of death can be shown in ways that are beautiful, journalistic & documentary or just plain gory and disgusting. It all depends on the goal of the photographer.

The hummingbird picture you showed, had the female been dead, could have been a powerful anthropomorphic moment.

Jeff Nadler
02-14-2008, 04:44 PM
I might photo a dead bird if it was prey and in the mouth of another, live one.

Fabs Forns
02-14-2008, 04:46 PM
I might photo a dead bird if it was prey and in the mouth of another, live one.

I can live with that.
I am not against it, don't get me wrong, I just rather not see them. Prey is somehow, stupidly different.

Amy DeStefanis
02-18-2008, 06:12 PM
Our local photography club recently did a macro shoot at a local nursery. The nursery featured ponds and water fountains. One of the koi from a pond had taken a leap. One of the photographers, perching in the rocks found him there, and suddenly it was paparazzi all training their macro lenses on the little guy.

I figured it wouldn't look too good for the nursery owners for this dead fish to just be lying there, so I said I'd let them know. "Oooh - ask them to wait till we've finished with it before they clean it up!"

It was actually kind of hysterical. And a little sad. I'm sure it was the most-photographed dead koi in the state. I didn't see the pictures that came out of it - so I'm not sure how it was treated. Everyone agreed it was a little absurd, but it seemed to make an interesting subject.

Rosl, I completely understood your comments. I agree. Sometimes it's just too much.