Improve Your Chicken Pics with These 6 Tips

Improve Your Chicken Pics with These 6 Tips

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Whether you are a breeder who wants to advertise their show birds or a hobbyist who loves to capture their chicken’s character, learning how to take better chicken pics can be accomplished with a few easy tips. Walking around you’ll notice everyone always has a camera in their hand or in their pocket. While some phones take higher quality photos than my real camera, these tips can be applied to either device.  

Chicken Photography Tips

  1. Shoot in Natural Light — Around sunset and sunrise the sunlight turns warm and photographers refer to this period as the golden hour. Depending on your latitude and longitude this hour can last between 50 and 90 minutes. This is a great time to practice taking chicken pic profiles. The contrast reduces during this time, making shadows not as dark and highlights not as likely to be overexposed. If you can’t shoot during the magical golden hour, try to pick a pleasant sunny day with slight overcast. Using natural light and avoiding the flash will ensure you don’t experience red eye. Most digital cameras, and now smartphones, have a setting for sun or clouds. If you wanted to take photos indoors with a preferred blank background, I’ve found that shooting near a large window is easiest.
I photographed this pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) in Iceland during the golden hour as the sun balanced on the horizon. The effect – a warm magical glow.
  1. Snap Quickly and Often — Take a lesson from the teens: take many photos and edit them later. Often when I approach one of my birds doing something adorable, I start taking photos as I approach. This helps me improve the likelihood that I will get a piece of the behavior recorded, even if it isn’t an ideal picture. If you wait to start taking photos until you and the bird are in the exact right spot, you risk them leaving. Placing your camera on continuous auto-focus or sports mode will also help in securing the perfect moment. If most of your photos aren’t to your liking, it’s not a problem. It’s not like you wasted a roll of film. Delete the poor photos, reload the SD card, recharge and try again.  
  1. Be Patient — In taking chicken pics, patience is crucial. Chickens are inquisitive. I have never had success using treats to aid in the perfect pic. Their pecking order does not lend itself to using food to get a flock in the right stance. Once the food is thrown, birds are pugnacious, and it doesn’t show their best quality. I’ve found that by sitting with my camera and waiting for the flock to resume daily life, I get the best photos. Once a bird strikes that special pose, be ready. Many times, once they see their reflection in the lens, they are like the god Narcissus: they all seem to want to be the star. These chicken pic tips are not limited to chickens of course. Heritage turkey breeds, especially the toms, photograph well when they are strutting for their hens. Be patient, and you’ll capture the perfect moment.  
Although this Orpington isn’t grumpy, the angle of the face sure tells a story.  
  1. Be Prepared — Prior to a successful photoshoot, you should have a mission. Pet photography is best when a picture tells a story. Think about your chicken’s personality and try to capture it on camera. The way your pet photography can tell a story is through your subject’s character. Grooming and bathing chickens prior to the photoshoot will show off their healthy feathers and your love for them.  
  1. Observe Backgrounds — Bars of a cage, an extra bird, or an unsightly DIY project in the background could ruin your shot. Be attentive to backgrounds and blur them using your camera’s TV function or edit them in post-production. Blurring the background also puts the photo’s subject in focus and gives your chicken pics a professional feel. If you are having trouble clearing up the background, change your angle and position in relation to the bird.  
  1. Shoot at Eye Level — On average, chickens are tiny. Shooting an aerial view of them is not going to capture their personality. The photo will also not be proportional. Get the camera to their eye level by either elevating them to yours by photographing them perched on a fence or chair or by getting on the ground. Use plastic bags or cushions on the ground if you don’t want to get dirty … but you do raise backyard poultry, so you probably won’t mind. Once you settle on the ground, your chickens may start to wander — don’t panic. You can take candid pictures of them not directly looking at you to show their perspective. Making funny sounds or clicks can get them to focus on you. If the AF (AutoFocus) square is bouncing around on the screen, place it on an eye to capture their spirit.  

Now that you have these great tips on taking chicken pics, we would love to see your photos in the comments below!

Originally published in the April/May 2021 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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