Zen and the art of rearing chickens


Earlier this month I went to a residential service for people with disabilities. I’ve been there a few times over the years and I was there again to do some new photos. Rob, one of the residents, had some real eggs for Easter and they had now grown into 5 week old chicks. While I took the pictures he taught me a few things about how to rear chickens from eggs – things like the expected success rate, when they will start to lay, and so on. Rob had kept various exotic animals and birds for years, so he understood them well.

My brief that day wasn’t necessarily to photograph Rob and the chickens. The chickens were there and we chatted about them while doing other photos. I went in with a brief and a sort of plan, but things change as they always do and so I try to keep in the moment and respond accordingly. It’s an approach that, for me, generally makes for better photos.

The day reminded me of why I like doing what I do, why I like photographing people. It’s about the unpredictability and it’s about making contact, not a superficial photographer/subject contact but something on a more human level. Of course that kind of contact doesn’t always happen, but when it does I know I get better pictures. It’s a natural result which comes from that human interaction.

So I had a lesson in how to rear chickens from eggs, not a bad idea perhaps but I think for now I’ll leave that to people who know what they are doing, like Rob.