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Behind the Photo: Beth Moon Discusses Her Hen Portraits


photo-eye Gallery Behind the Photo:
Beth Moon Discusses Her Hen Portraits
In this Behind the Photo segment, Beth Moon describes her thoughts and intentions regarding the creation of her images Serma and Ameraucana from her series Augurs and Soothsayers.

Beth Moon's exhibition Ancient Kindom installed at photo-eye Gallery
photo-eye Gallery was delighted to open our latest exhibition Beth Moon: Ancient Kingdom last Friday, September 28th. Beth Moon is a recently represented artist at photo-eye Gallery and Ancient Kingdoms corresponds with the release of her fourth monograph Literary Chickens, a series of heritage-breed chicken portraits paired with literary excerpts published by Abbeville Press.

For greater insight into the series, we reached out to Moon to tell us the story of how a couple of the images were made. In this Behind the Photo segment, Moon describes her thoughts and intentions regarding the creation of her images Serma and Ameraucana from her series Augurs and Soothsayers.

Beth Moon: Ancient Kingdoms will remain on view at photo-eye Gallery through Saturday, November 24th, and Moon's monograph, Literary Chickens, is due to be released later this month.

Serama, Platinum/Palladium Print, 7.5x6" Image, Edition of 9, $950

SERAMA

I was initially contacted by a German publisher interested in publishing the chicken portraits I started in 2010. Needing a few more images, I contacted Isabella Rossellini and asked to photograph her heritage chickens as her farm was not far away.

On her farm, all animals; sheep, pigs, dogs, and goats are part of one big family. Concerned with animal welfare, Isabella believes that each small farm has an important part to play to boost genetic diversity – truly an inspiration!

Used to being handled, her hens were especially gentle. This particular hen, a Serama, caught my attention. She was very curious and affectionate, watching everything that I did. The breed originates in Malaysia and was named after the King of Thailand, Raja Sri Rama, who like the birds, was renowned for his majestic appearance and proud carriage.

Looking at the finished print, a Dickens quote came to mind, “Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together.”


Ameraucana, Platinum/Palladium Print, 7.5x6" Image, Edition of 9, $950

AMERAUCANA

This was the very first hen portrait I made. It was a test actually. I had a rough idea of what I was after, but I wasn’t sure it would translate on paper.

With a low to the ground table, a linen backdrop, I accepted an invitation to visit a friend’s chickens. Every time the hen was placed on the table, it immediately hopped off. It was a race to see if I could focus and compose the shot before the chicken jumped. I got faster in time. Fueled by my dissatisfaction of factory farming and outraged at the treatment of farm animals, I was determined to continue!

Reviewing the shots later that afternoon, I saw empty frames!  Many were out of focus, but I was encouraged by this image. While anticipating the bird jumping, I compensated by moving the camera to the left, leaving the bird off center, but it was in that split second that I felt a connection where I caught the gaze of the hen peering cautiously at me.

It wasn’t my intention to find expressions or qualities similar to that of humans, but by ignoring these human-like characteristics we risk seeing these animals as separate and we miss something fundamental about animals and ourselves. By recognizing similar qualities, we begin to view animals as individual beings that deserve respect, and that’s a good first step!


For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com

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Literary Chickens by Beth Moon
Photographs by Beth Moon.
Afterword by Jane Goodall.
Abbeville Press, Jackson, 2018. 144 pp., 9x11¼".

Pre-Order
Hardbound [Signed]: $50.00

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com

photo-eye Gallery
541 S. Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
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