Creating Drama in Bird Photography

Every photo evokes emotion, whether it is joy, fear, surprise, excitement, or astonishment. How photos are treated can help enhance those emotions and accentuate the drama of a shot.

Cropping is really critical to making a picture feel like so much more. With a thoughtful crop, you tighten up a shot to highlight the emotion you want to evoke, and at the same time eliminate excess clutter that can distract from the bird.

Deliberately cropping into a bird’s wings, for example, will pull you closer to the bird’s eye, adding drama and power to the photo. You may not be creating the bird’s expression, pose, or posture, but you can draw attention to it and make it the centerpiece of the photo.

Furthermore, the different ways you look at the same photo can show you different things, even different emotions. I return to my archives again and again, and I’m always finding something new, even in very similar photos. You can get different feelings from the same bird with different postures, angles, or light levels, as each tiny change will show you a new perspective. An open bill, a ruffled wing, a turn of the head – and of these small changes can create a whole new look and a whole new emotion.

The most important thing in bird photography is the eye. Just like with any animal, eyes are the windows to the soul, and you can see so much emotion and intensity in a bird’s eyes. Getting a glint or sparkle in the eye shows the bird’s life and energy, and helps someone who sees the photo feel a connection to the bird.

That connection is what my photography is all about. The more connection people feel to birds, the more likely they will want to see birds, learn more about them, and help protect them. Any photo I take that might inspire that protection and bird conservation is a good photo, and I’m happy to share it with everyone, to spread those emotions and connection further with each shot.