Many photographers struggle to find models, often paying lots of money to professional agencies or resorting to Model Mayhem to recruit on-camera talent. In Vancouver, I have found a huge selection of beautiful models who will work for peanuts. Literally.
One of my favorite activities in bird photography is to assemble a group of hungry crows in order to hone my camera technique and practice my timing Crows are photographically challenging due to their dark tones, but repeated efforts will yield nice results. These abundant city crows are used to scavenging human refuse and soliciting handouts, so feeding them does not risk altering their survival skillset.
They will approach closely, so shooting them with a 50 mm lens is definitely doable.
What I love especially about these birds is their curiosity and mannerisms that call to mind their intelligence.
In the Vancouver area, there is a high abundance of crows, who (when not rearing young) fly into the city at dawn from huge communal roost sites in Burnaby.
Because they are such willing subjects, I can experiment with different lighting styles, even overused hipster clichés.
One of the best things about working with an urban social species is that they go about most parts of their lives in front of humans, so they do not alter their behavior because of fear. So I try to catch natural behavior as well, such as calling, anting, foraging, playing, and allopreening.
All in all, I think the crow makes a worthy model for future photographic study. I keep returning to them for inspiration and practice. There are so many more behaviors, looks and moods I would like to document. When nothing else is going well, a photo session with crows can always boost my morale and stir my imagination.
What kind of familiar subjects do you return to?