Wildlife Photographer Disguises Himself as a Swan to Get Close to Other Birds


Wildlife photographer Henryk Janowski has an awesome and ingenious way of getting close to his subjects: he swims around in a bird blind that’s designed to look like a large white swan.

Much of his photography is done in a local swamp that became a bird paradise after authorities decided to preserve the area. The shore of the water is lined with impenetrable belts of reeds and mud, so Janowski has been forced to come up with clever ideas for going into the swamp without scaring the birds away.

After a number of failed ideas, he came up with the idea of building a floating swan that hides his body and supports his camera equipment. To use the swan blind, he puts on a neoprene diving suit and immerses himself in the water up to his head.



The “swan suit” has been a major success. Janowski has been able to get up close and personal with all kinds of creatures in the area, spending several hours at a time swimming with the “other birds” and documenting their lives.

Janowski writes,

Whenever I swim in my camouflage, I feel at one with nature. You pass birds and beavers at play, undisturbed by human presence. This proved to me that I had successfully broken the taboo that the aquatic environment was inaccessible.

Here are some of the amazing bird photographs he has captured so far using the floating swan:







You can find more of Janowski’s photographs over in his SmugMug website.

Image credits: Photographs by Henryk Janowski and used with permission

  • Ken Li Hsieh

    Delicate effort makes decent photos!!

  • Burnin Biomass

    BWAHAHAHA!!! Great idea, but that top picture looks like a Swan mounted on a gun turret.

  • gunman

    that defeats the purpose of a long lens.

  • Tomasz Nowicki

    Awesome! Great photography and beautiful site.

  • Ivor Wilson

    Hardly… it allows him to get far closer than before, giving the opportunity to get up close ‘n’ personal shots, without cropping.

  • Ivor Wilson

    The Swan Strikes Back. :D

  • Richard

    Real swans DO strike back, they’re vicious!

  • Ivor Wilson

    True, but not with 6″ diameter guns. Usually. ;)

  • James Schooling

    That lens is just inches above the water. I bet he has to move so slowly to keep from getting it wet. I wish they would have shown what the suit looks like out of the water. Amazing photos from it though.

  • Richard

    Seriously, swans are an incredibly aggressive bird. I was attacked in a kayak (no long lens or gun), I had to beat it off with a paddle.

  • Ross


    Birds must be really stupid. This is great though!

  • Ivor Wilson

    Yep, my better-half was feeding some Swans at a local waterway, when one of them decided her food wasn’t good enough and started “barking” at her and walking right up to her. Cue one hasty retreat…

  • Richard

    Exactly. My wife got in trouble with one before we met and warned me but alas, stupid me, paddled right up to one and pissed it off.

  • gunman

    then, use a prime lens then. :)

  • Fran

    You don’t really know what you are talking about, do you?

  • lidocaineus

    He can also get a way different perspective due to the smaller distance. I don’t think @gunman knows anything about lens focal lengths however.

  • Bart Cummins

    Great results and thanks for sharing.

  • niXerKG

    Taking “MUST GET CLOSER” to new levels. I’ve seen his pictures around for awhile but never knew who he was. Awesome!

  • Ripley

    Birds aren’t stupid. They just have different vision to us.

  • Kieran Grasby

    He IS using a prime lens. A prime lens is any lens of fixed focal length.

  • Norshan Nusi

    Just like what Robert Capa said then.

  • Mansgame

    It reminds me of Top Secret

  • Avey Owyns

    Really? What about a birds vision would allow them to confuse a fake bird with a real one? …the confusion doesn’t stem from their vision. They can see well enough. It stems from their brain and their inability to truly detect the real from the fake.

  • John Kantor

    Closer to birds, farther away from humans.

  • metroller

    I think gunman was saying random sentences with camera referenced vocabulary words. The next line should be, “why doesn’t he shoot medium format”

  • Carin Basson

    That and that something that doesn’t look like a human isn’t a human. They probably just see another “bird”, not a fake swan.

  • isiah baskins

    he has to move slow anyways because he’s a “swan”

  • Néstor René Cussí

    Björk Strikes Again

  • Neha Rathi

    Nice idea !! It’s good as long as the birds don’t realise it.Lovely candid shots :)

  • Rob

    This reminds me of Ace Ventura…

  • Richard Valencia

    LOL you beat it off?

  • Richard

    Right, and then I got rid of the swan. ;)

  • Michael Andrew Broughton

    i’d be real worried about hunters and horny birds if i were him. hope he’s got a helmet on under that thing. and if that’s supposed to be a swan, why is it’s face painted to look like a goose?

  • Breeze

    Makes you wonder.. if snipers make great photographers.