Sunday, 26 September, 2021

Read this in: German

Where are my Harry Potter fans out there? And who of you has ever imagined having Hedwig as a pet? Exactly. Many of us. Apparently, photos with owls don’t seem so exotic in photographer circles, but nobody in my bubble has shot with owls so far. So I was actually very hyped when I heard about an owl shoot and took the chance. In this post I tell you about my experiences.

First the hard facts about my shoot

No, the shoot wasn’t free. We paid 150 euros for a 30 minute shoot including 5 photos. Travel costs are not included, luckily we were able to borrow a car for the last part near Wolfsburg, otherwise we would not have done this shoot either.

And no, nothing is sponsored here. I didn’t get any free photos, free owls or anything like that. My husband Jona was allowed to film the shoot for social media with permission, that’s all. But I think this experience is very extraordinary and so I want to report to all the Potterheads and owl fans out there. Anyone who follows me on Instagram also knows that our apartments are full of owls, which is because not only I, but also my dear grandma was a big owl fan and after her death I inherited a large part of her great owl collection and keep it in honor. So my rather sparse apartment becomes a bit of a magic forest.

How careful do you have to be?

Of course you shouldn’t forget: birds of prey are wild animals and they are living things and not a photo accessory. This shoot was much more about the experience of meeting owls up close. The photos were more of a by-product.

How easy are photos with owls?

At this point I don’t want to flex, but of course I have a certain amount of experience with the camera and have to say that it was of course more exhausting than usual, especially with the eagle owl lady Käthe, who already weighs a few kilos. You can’t just pose and, to be honest, I was scared to make quick movements, because the owl on the hand or shoulder is not an accessory or a photo background, but a living being. Just when it started to rain at the end of the shoot, you just noticed to the owls that the attention from the pattering raindrops had gone away from the shoot – and that’s perfectly okay. And a bird can just as easily need a break or have a bad day as a human. Therefore, there was not just one owl on site, but a few more so that everyone could take a break and rest. It is precisely for this reason that it is good that the falconer keeps an eye on it, as he naturally knows his animals best.

But overall there weren’t any situations that scared me. I was more the one who treated the owls with respect and caution and I could be braver next time.

How does it feel to shoot with owls?

Unexpectedly easy. Except for Käthe, who was too heavy for me after 15 to 20 minutes, and one or the other owl, where I first had to learn how to hold my hand correctly without gloves, everything was fine. And yes, an owl also relieved itself on my hand and it wasn’t particularly bad, there were immediately two people with a wet wipe and a handkerchief and then I washed my hands. They are living beings and they should be respected. Every owl is different, has a different character. While Nyx chilled the base, Fridolin and Wolke were both very lively and Käthe again calm.

Owls feel like birds. For me as a child who grew up with chickens, it was no different than petting chickens or ducks, just with fancier plumage than the red poultry of my childhood.

You should only stroke them with the falconer’s consent – in this case the owls were therapy animals during my shoot and could be stroked without any problems.

What does an owl shoot cost?

There is actually no fixed price – it depends on the prices of the photographers you work with and here it would actually be good if you work with someone who has the right equipment for photo shoots with animals. In particular, zoom lenses or fixed focal lengths can be helpful. Those who are not equipped in this way can decide for themselves: Do I just want snapshots with a mobile phone (no flash, please!) Or my own camera, or do I want to capture this encounter? We decided on the latter, because that way we also have beautiful pictures for the relatives, true to the motto “Yes, this is my something-with-media niece, she does crazy things”.

Where can I meet owls or take photos?

We worked with Seeleneulen and GrietschFotografie on this shoot. 

My tips for models

  • For eagle owls or larger owls, one can work well with keeping the bent arm close to the body for stability.
  • When you go, please walk carefully and slowly if you have an owl on your hand or shoulder.
  • Watch out for the owl and ask beforehand if this owl would like to be touched.

If you want to snap owls as a photographer:

  • as in general when working with animals – no reflector, no flash
  • Also as a photographer, be careful not to move too hectically or to make noise
  • Continuous recording instead of single recording
  • Patience until owl looks as desired
  • The falconer decides how long the owl is available for photos
  • Basically: The falconer knows his owls and knows what is possible and what is not
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