Photographer Shows How Chickens, Hens, and Roosters Make the Perfect Models

 

Fine Art Photography of Hens and Roosters by Alex ten Napel

Fine art photographer Alex ten Napel is known for his beautiful portraits—and he doesn't just limit these portraits to humans. With his Chickens, Hens and Roosters series, ten Napel proves that our feathered friends can also make excellent models. Shot against solid-colored backgrounds (typically black or white), the portraits show the elegance and beauty of these animals in rich detail.

In 2014, ten Napel realized that he could transfer his 25 years of portrait-taking experience into something new. He was sitting on the ground eating breakfast while on vacation in France when a chicken wandered over to him. That's when it all clicked. “Because we were, in a matter of speaking, on the same level, I saw her in a different perspective and noticed different aspects,” he tells My Modern Met. “She was sociable, funny, touching, and curious. She was so human! At the same period, I was looking for a new subject to photograph. I had made many portrait series and had the idea that I had to change course. So why not portray hens and roosters?”

Ten Napel threw himself into the project with gusto, learning as much as he could about his new subjects. This meant long visits to the Poultry Museum in Barneveld, where he could walk around their coops, and look at 17th-century paintings of poultry by great Dutch painters. After observing the hens and roosters closely, he knew that he had found something special.

Portraits of Chickens, Hens, and Roosters by Alex ten Napel

“I saw walking works of art,” ten Napel recalls. “They are dressed in beautiful feathers with a great variety of colors and patterns. They walk gracefully as models on a catwalk, dance delicately like ballet dancers, and move acrobatically like gymnasts. Watching them was a feast for the eyes.”

When he felt ready, he created a mobile photo studio in the barn of a breeder he'd made contact with and went to work. What happened next was magic. The spontaneity of working with live animals was something new for the photographer, and the creative spark it ignited was palpable. He was thrilled that these animals, unlike humans, aren't trying to hide anything in front of the camera. They are simply being themselves at all times, for better or for worse.

Ten Napel's appreciation and respect for the chickens, hens, and roosters shine through in his work. Whether they are strutting across the scene or picking at their feathers, he captures it all. The level of trust that he develops with the birds is also evident in their poses. Although having patience isn't always easy, ten Napel takes his time to create a bond that only enhances his portraits.

He hopes that others will see the charm and personality of these animals and, in some way, gain a better appreciation for them. As he points out, not all of these chickens lead wonderful lives and so it's his desire to see them get the love and attention that they deserve.

With his Chickens, Hens and Roosters series, fine art photographer Alex ten Napel takes stunning portraits of chickens.

Portrait of a Hen on a White BackgroundPortraits of Chickens, Hens, and Roosters by Alex ten NapelPortraits of Chickens, Hens, and Roosters by Alex ten NapelPortraits of Chickens, Hens, and Roosters by Alex ten Napel

In 2014, he was inspired to use hens and roosters as models after a chance encounter with one while on vacation.

Beautiful Portrait of a HenFine Art Portrait of a RoosterPortrait of a Red and Orange RoosterRooster Portrait by Alex ten Napel

After closely observing these animals, he realized that they would make the perfect subjects of a portrait series.

Portraits of Chickens, Hens, and Roosters by Alex ten NapelHen and Rooster Portraits by Alex ten NapelPortraits of Chickens, Hens, and Roosters by Alex ten Napel

“I saw walking works of art.”

Portraits of Chickens, Hens, and Roosters by Alex ten NapelPortraits of Chickens, Hens, and Roosters by Alex ten Napel

“They walk gracefully as models on a catwalk, dance delicately like ballet dancers, and move acrobatically like gymnasts.”

Hen and Rooster Portraits by Alex ten NapelAlex ten Napel: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Alex ten Napel.

Related Articles:

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Elegant Bird Portraits Highlight the Refined Beauty of Our Feathered Friends

Pretty Pigeon Portraits Celebrate the Overlooked Beauty of the Common City Bird

Portraits of “Most Beautiful Chickens on the Planet” Capture Their Underrated Beauty

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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