Owls have fascinated us for the millennium. They frequently appear in our stories and myths back in the ancient Greek and Egyptian times. Many different cultures across various regions of the world have bestowed symbolic meaning upon owls, seeing them as keepers of wisdom, protectors of the dead, and guardians of the underworld.

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My first encounter with owls was far less mystical and ethereal. I was visiting a wildlife sanctuary near my home in New Mexico in the middle of a summer day and I got to see a large number of the birds. As a visual artist, I was struck by the compelling beauty of their feather patterns and their huge colorful eyes.

I knew immediately that I wanted to work with them. After securing permission to do a photo shoot, I set up a studio on a site few weeks later and had individual birds brought in by their handlers. The primary shot I was seeking to capture was the frontal gaze, a direct stare into the camera. This is how I make a more powerful and intimate connection to another living being – I look them in the eyes.

Very quickly I realized this was going to be extremely difficult to achieve. Most can rotate their heads 270 degrees and each one preferred to look at the black background behind them rather than at me and my lights. It didn’t surprise me at all.

More info: bradwilson.com

Spectacled Owl

Western Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Barn Owl

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Burrowing Owl

Long Eared Owl

Northern Pygmy Owl

Flammulated Owl

Tawny Owl

Great Horned Owl