Annually in late autumn, migrating raptors are caught in nets, banded, and set free again in an attempt to record population fluctuations and migratory patterns. In 2009, I photographed these wild birds during the research project in Cape May. The resulting series explores portrait photography by focusing on wild birds in the place of human subjects.
The portraits question the ethics of seeing, asking what we have the right to observe. The captured birds are photographed as if posing for the camera. They cannot object to the predatory nature of photography, and they do not understand the ways in which they are being perceived by the human eye.
To photograph is to appropriate the thing being photographed, putting oneself in a position of ascendency. To take a portrait of someone is to see them in a way they have never seen themselves, turning subjects into objects, which could be visually possessed. Portraiture captures the innocence of life inevitably moving towards its own destruction. Yet the subjects are always revealing themselves as they drift into the obscure past, opening themselves to interpretation and reminding us that self-revelation is a continuous process.