The photographic portrait rests on a visual language that is shaped not just by framing, technical criteria and the personal vision of the photographer. It is also the result of the pose and the positioning of the model in front of the lens. An intimate dialogue is created with the camera. The objective is the visual representation of an individual, a character and the endeavour of revealing the characteristics of this identity via its appearance.
This series of images entitled "The Incomplete Dictionary of Show Birds" focuses on one aspect of the universe of birds. Nevertheless, the concept is altogether out of the ordinary. Luke Stephenson does not create documentary images, displaying each animal in its usual habitat, showing off the camouflage function of the animal's plumage and wanting to reveal information on its character via its carriage and body language. Instead, he draws up a type of catalogue and excludes everything that could steal the birds' limelight: their habitat and any background. These little birds appear to be posing in the photographs, sitting on their perch and forgetting about their wings for a few moments. They show off their plumage and their magnificent plethora of colours. There is something magical about the lightness of the images that almost makes one believe in a complicity between the birds and the photographer. The observer succumbs to their charm. Sometimes looks are exchanged, sometimes the birds appear inaccessible. Tiny lean bodies, fragile and yet proud and elegant: unique.
Luke Stephenson (*1983, Darlington) lives and works in London.
text: A. Meyer
English translation by Claire Weyland