Bird portraits are considered to be images of birds where the subject takes up a large portion of the frame, and generally “sitting still” rather than engaging in flight or other behavior. With that said, there are no hard and fast rules of what constitutes a portrait – it’s more of an objective thing!

Similar to a portrait of human subjects. Most wildlife photography competitions will have a portrait category and it will usually be one of, if not the most popular category in terms of numbers of submissions.

A detailed portrait of a Mandarin Duck

What is the goal of creating quality wild bird portrait photos? Everyone’s goals will differ, but the underlying aim of a high quality avian portrait is to capture the essence of a bird species and is individual, distinguishing features. The image should be detailed and sharp on the eyes of the bird at a minimum. The background or surroundings of a good bird portrait should not distract the viewer from the main subject: the bird itself. Most photographers wanting to create high quality bird portraits aim for distraction-less backgrounds that are clean and clear of obstructions, creating a smooth effect. Again, there are no rules and using one’s imagination is the key to having your portraits of birds stand out from the crowd!

This impressive portrait of an African Fish Eagle makes it impossible to tell if it’s a wild or captive bird

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