Typically seen clambering for scraps on metropolis streets, pigeons are typically an ignored and even despised species. The birds’ ubiquity in city areas, and their colloquial characterization as “flying rats,” have given them a lackluster fame that Brendan Burden upends in his ongoing sequence of portraits.
The Ottawa-based photographer initially encountered the crest of the Jacobin pigeon, a lavish crown of plumage that wraps round its neck like a voluminous garment. “I had no concept pigeons may look this fashion and began doing a little analysis and got here to search out out that there’s a extensive number of pigeons, wild and home, a lot of that are fairly lovely,” he says. “I questioned whether or not I may apply extra formal portrait methods to those birds.”
After Ottawa Journal commissioned him to shoot some creatures for a narrative on the Canadian Pigeon Fancier’s Affiliation, the Fancy Pigesons sequence started to take form. “My intention was to juxtapose the lowly pigeon with formal portraiture methods and supply a brand new perspective on one thing ubiquitous, bordering on utterly invisible,” Burden shares. Set towards stable, paper backdrops resting in a big, present cage, the photographs evoke studio photographs and seize every creature’s distinctive options. The Kormorner tumbler, for instance, seems as if it’s sporting a turtleneck of brown feathers with a puffy collar, whereas the Moden’s gleaming, iridescent neck contrasts the delicate, black and orange plumes of its physique.
As Burden photographed the birds—all are within the care of fanciers and avian lovers reasonably than breeders—he realized in regards to the distinctive relationship they’ve with people. Pigeons are seemingly the primary species to be domesticated, a history mirrored in Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets and Egyptian hieroglyphics that recommend the observe was seemingly occurring greater than 5,000 years in the past. He explains:
Had you requested me previous to endeavor this undertaking, the place they got here from, I might have simply assumed that they have been wild and had some form of symbiotic relationship with people, like rats or mice or any variety of different creatures. However in truth, they’re feral domesticated birds, and the explanation they’re in all places is partly as a result of people have been breeding them, usually for nothing apart from their magnificence, for hundreds of years.
As Burden provides to the Fancy Pigeons sequence, he’s shifting to photographing wild species, a change that requires extra journey, time, and endurance. “Being that they’re birds, typically you simply don’t get what you hoped for and must reshoot,” he says. You possibly can observe his progress on Instagram, and store limited-edition prints on his site. (by way of PetaPixel)
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