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Birds of Paradise

Ryan Borne


Behind the Shot

No plant symbolizes the tropics quite like the bird of paradise. Its bold colors are hard to miss, with large leaves and exotic, spiky blooms ready to take flight. The vivid flowers offer an abundance of nectar to attract their bird pollinators. 

The islands of French Polynesia boast spectacular fauna. The bird of paradise, though native to coastal Africa, thrives in the rich volcanic soil of Moorea—an island 10 nautical miles from Tahiti. Ryan Borne snapped this bird of paradise on Moorea with a Canon 1DX Mark II camera using a 16-35mm F2.8 lens.

“The shapes and colors of this particular one are truly spectacular,” he says. “There are strong leading lines directing the eye of the viewer toward the main subject. The shape is out of this world—like nothing else—and the color is so vibrant. The fragile flower emerging from that deep green is like a fire burning in the chest. It’s alive and raging, and to me it’s a source of inspiration. It is there to ignite the spirit and the mind. It reminds you that in the midst of darker times, there’s still fire and warmth.” 

The bird of paradise is one of Ryan Borne’s favorite blooms. If you’re a fan, stay tuned—he’s considering shooting an entire series of tropical plant photographs.