"Try to look a chicken in the eye with great intensity and the intensity of stupidity that is looking back at you is just amazing."
Chicken Portraits demonstrates how portrait photography can impose an emotional tone on any subject.
A portrait encourages the viewer to imagine a narrative for the subject based on the scene, lighting and expression. A subject looking directly at the viewer, for example, is frank or emotionally available, while one looking down is troubled or doubtful. This imagined narrative can lead the viewer to believe that they are seeing a real emotional moment that has been faithfully documented by the photographer.
Chickens were photographed for their limited range of feelings and their inability to have these emotional moments. While a chicken can be satisfied or stressed, it is unlikely that it would feel something like self-doubt, and it would not have the self-awareness to recognize a photographer and address the camera. Ultimately, it is the bias of portrait photography towards narrative that imbues these images with their inordinate range of emotion.