Appreciation (If Not Love) of Chickens Runs in the Family

December 17, 2011

See the post for full details.

IMG_0587Left: Photographer Rolf Hagberg shoots a goreous model. (Image ©2011 Rolf Hagberg.)

I just found out that my cousin, photographer Rolf Hagberg, has been shooting chicken portraits! Imagine my complete delight in this knowledge. (Anyone who has read my blog for more than a few days will know I'm absolutely crazy in love with chickens.)

You can read more about his process with tips on photographing live animals here.

If you would like to view the shoot as if you were there (and frankly Rolf, why wasn't I asked to be there!) you can see a video of the chicken photography session here.

And finally, if you want to see the charming and delightful chicken portraits that resulted you can follow this link. (Prints are available for purchase. And while I'm related to Rolf I'm not financially connected in any way; the images are just plain cool.)

One of best things about Rolf's recent images…they take the heat off of me in the family for loving chickens. Next time my folks roll their eyes and shake their heads at the new chicken painting on the easel I can just say, "Rolf loves chickens too." (They adore him. Bingo, Bango, Bongo—what can they say!?)

    • Christine F
    • December 17, 2011

    I can’t say I LOVE chickens, but I have a soft spot in my heart for them. Your cousin’s photos are just beautiful. I can imagine some interesting work will show up shortly here……….LOL

  1. Reply

    Christine, I didn’t get invited to the photo shoot so I didn’t get to sketch any of those chickens. What I do know now, however, is that Rolf has connections with people who have some very interesting chickens (did you see some of the more unusual breeds in the photos?).

    I’m hoping this spring I can convince him to introduce me to some of those people so that I can go up and and sketch some chickens in barns or coops or yards, however they are raised. It would be a great spring project. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Otherwise I’m not going to have access to chickens until August 2012! (Well I just remembered my friend Mimi is raising chickens so maybe I can get over there in the spring too.)

    Fingers crossed. I love it when there are at least some leads to follow up.

    And I’m glad you enjoyed Rolf’s photos. I think they are great—he really catches the chicken personalities.

  2. Reply

    I just love those portraits. I’m going to make a felted pillow with a chicken face on it!

  3. Reply

    What Fun Marta. It’s great when someone’s artwork inspires us to express our own creativity.

    Please respect Rolf’s copyright (which I’m sure you were going to do but I have to make this clear for people reading the comments) and use your own photos and sketches from life as references or find copyright free images through an internet search to use as your model.

    Dover Publications is a great source of copyright free images.


    • Caroline
    • December 17, 2011

    These are fantastic! My new neighbour has moved in with some bantams including a rooster, so I am hoping to be able to take a few photos and do some sketching. Bantam roosters really have attitude!

    • Christina Trevino.
    • December 17, 2011

    Just curious. Say I want to draw one of the images of the chicken, and of course it will never be an exact copy, you think I’ll be infringing (sp?) in your cousin’s rights and I should not do it?
    On the other hand, when you guys are drawing someone in the doctors office or a park….any place, are you not infringing on their (whatever) rights? Because you guys don’t ask the person if they agree, do you?
    Some times I’d like to take a pic of people on the bus or the street, but I am afraid they would get mad.

  4. Reply

    I adore chickens and want some so bad!! Chicken Porn!!!

    • Miss T
    • December 18, 2011

    Wonderful photos!

  5. Reply

    Christina, yes, it is infringement of copyright to draw from someone else’s photos. There’s volumes written about this. It has to do with “derivative art”—art that derives from some other piece.

    People still do this and make the argument that if they don’t sell the resultant derivative artwork that there’s no harm or foul.

    My attitude is why muddy the waters. Sometimes we do things that are not for “resale” but years later someone might ask to buy it so then you’ve got to keep enormous records on everything, where all your sources come from etc.. And at that point you’re going to have to go back to the original artist and negotiate a fee to use his or her original material as a starting point. What a huge headache.

    I also think that copying artworks in this way muddies the water around the original work, putting into the public, through postings on facebook, blogs, websites, etc., works that are similar to the original and take people, especially potential buyers, further and further away from the original artist and any potential sales he or she might have. This is going to happen in our world of electronic “publishing” and crafters unaware of, or blantantly in violation of, copyright. (It’s their responsibility to learn about this stuff if they are going to sell their works. And in my experience they are the first to cry foul when someone infringes on their copyright.)

    My other issue with copying the works of other artists, including the making of drawings and paintings which are derivative of another’s original artwork, is that you are letting the other artist make all your decisions for you on cropping, composition, lighting, etc.

    Nothing beats taking your own reference photos and making your reference sketches from LIFE of your subject and then creating your work from the ground up. And in that way you know you have clear title to the work.

    There is practice, which is never meant for resale and is just that, practice. And in my mind I feel so strongly about all this that I even consider sketching from video (of others) something that can be done only in practice. So for instance, when I sketch from TV I know in advance I’m never going to do anything commercial with that work and when it is displayed on the blog (to encourage people to sketch no matter what their circumstance, e.g., can’t get out because they are snowed in) I am always very clear that it was made while watching TV. People have argued with me about this particular view, but I feel strongly about it.

    When I am asked professionally to create an image IF it involves any photographic (or sculptural references as I was once hired to create a ink portrait of a man from a bust on his tombstone) there is a bunch of paperwork to go through, and effort to track down the original artist, request permission for the particular use I’m going to engage in, and then negotiation of a fee based on the final commercial use of my piece (e.g., printed in a textbook with X number of copies of the book printed would have a different fee than doing a greeting card etc.)

    People can then argue that there is then the difference between whether or not they are doing something for commercial gain or private use. I don’t really see a way to separate the two, unless you clearly designate the one as practice and never take it to a completed work (e.g. keep it in your journal). Too many times I see people do something for practice and then turn around and sell it because someone wants it. Why not avoid the whole issue by working only from your own materials.

    Which isn’t to say we can’t be inspired by looking at other people’s works it happens without our even knowing it, it is absorbed.

    As to the sketching of people in public places we’re dealing with totally different concepts. First we are not copying a work of art so there is no copyright to infringe upon. (People are not works of art. Though some may try to be.) Second because we are in a public place there is “no expectation of privacy” and so one of the givens we all face when we are out and about in public is that we have no expectation of privacy.

    Journalists take photos in those situations all the time and don’t have to get “model releases.” (Though there’s a whole other kettle of fish about this that I won’t go into here.)

    The answer is basically that yes you can sketch people and even take their photo in those public situations.

    The issue is further gummed up by some buildings exercising copyright or trademark status so that you can’t take a photo of the building. And I know the tree at the Pebble Beach golf course is trademarked or something so you can’t take a photo of its iconic self. So there are lots of issues like that which become very complicated.

    But in general if you’re walking down the street and you want to sketch or take a photo you can have at it without asking permission, because it’s a public place.

    There are also some rules of etiquette that should chime in. If you’re feeling intrusive you are probably being so and should stop, just out of civility. (An exception might be the taking of a video or photos of a crime in progress, items which could help people later. Being intrusive I believe should be settled later by lawyers in those situations.)

    In the general course of events people may get mad if you take their photo. That’s something you’ll have to deal with. I’ve had people get irritated with me when they discover that I’ve been sketching them, but it’s rare. I’m good at sketching without people noticing what I’m doing. It’s easier to hide that than a camera. Do I have the right to do it? If I’m in a public space, yes.

    If they ask me to stop, even though I have the right to do it, I always stop. It isn’t worth it to cause them distress, or to cause us both a big argument.

    There are some obvious exceptions, such as restaurants, which are public, sort of. Public because they are open, only sort of public because they are a business and are subject to other legal boundaries and rights which I wouldn’t even begin to understand. Many restaurants don’t allow photos they want their patrons to be able to eat in peace. There are all sorts of other issues here. Yet taking photos of street cafes, again, the expectation of privacy isn’t there.

    There are other times when I’m in a tightly confined but still public space and I want to sketch someone and I will ask them first because there is no way I can hide it from them. I usually begin by saying something like, “You have really interesting shoes, do you mind if I sketch them and you.” They always say yes, I sketch the shoes, and move on to the full person (if there is time). They often don’t even ask to see what I’m drawing.

    So it’s a complex set of issues that everyone has to educate himself about.

    Bottom line, on creativing derivative artworks I also believe that if we see something that really inspires us we should buy it and support the artist, and then get back to making our own independent works of art.

    Obviously it’s all more complicated than I can explain here and I’m not a lawyer. I have had legal advice to build the practices of my business and I use those throughout my life because I don’t really have any downtime when I’m not working.

    • December 18, 2011

    Beautiful pictures! I LOVE how you LOVE chickens.

  6. Reply

    Thanks Liz, it is a bit of an obsession, but I try to keep it a little under wraps, just a little.

    • Christina Trevino.
    • December 20, 2011

    Roz, thanks for your answer. Very interesting.

  7. Reply

    Christina, you’re welcome, as you can see it is a very complicated issue.

    • velma
    • December 23, 2011

    roz, well, i first encountered chicken love at my dear friend isis’s farm. she would sit and watch them, some of them she had voices for and performed a running commentary, some had behavioral patterns she would describe and predict. i was, er, surprised. then i saw the geese, well, the geese now, i could get excited about them. the gander decided i was ok one visit. i was prone on the grass on my tummy. he mounted me and “claimed” me that day. i kid you not.

  8. Reply

    Velma I’m glad you enjoy both chickens and geese. Geese can be formidable so in general I don’t recommend allowing that sort of dominance. But it is always interesting to see what they will do.

    I used to know a wonderful goose up north who lived to be about 30! He pretty much ran the farm he lived on, told the chickens where to lay their eggs (free range) and in general watched over his buddy the owner.

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