Falcon Heights

Richmond photographer Todd Wright captures the regal nature of the sporting falcon

Stanley, Virginia

Photograph by Todd Wright | From the Sport of Kings series, 2019

“There’s a rush of wind, a flutter of wings, and the falcon appears on the glove,” says the Richmond photographer Todd Wright. On an overcast February morning in 2019, Wright visited Raptor Hill Falconry—a Virginia organization that preserves the ancient art of falconry and promotes raptor conservation—to shoot a series that would spotlight the regal nature of sporting falcons. “These are noble birds, and I wanted portraits worthy of a king or queen,” he says. To capture these two angles of the same lanner falcon, Wright crouched on the ground beneath master falconer Jennifer Westhoff, and snapped at twelve frames per second as Westhoff sent off and then called the bird, named Bubbles, back to her arm. Later, he combined the images in a composite on a darkened background. “The birds themselves are so stunning, with the pattern on their wings and the yellow of their feet,” Wright says. “The only way to get a sense of that is to have them floating in space.”