Made in Raleigh: I was here first

Nemo Circle of Life

photograph by Simon Griffiths

When Raleigh commercial photographer Simon Griffiths and his family ordered seven chickens from last summer, all but one died en route. His daughter Gillian, 13, named the sole survivor Nemo after the animated fish, and Griffiths started photographing her that very day. The hardy chick was 3 days old.

Every two weeks, he took another picture. “I wanted to photograph her until the point where she started laying eggs,” he says. That happened 24 weeks later. “It’s pretty phenomenal, actually, to see how quickly she grew up.” He’d been photographing premature infants at WakeMed, documenting their progress from one and a half pound newborn to healthy 2-year-old. That got him started on what he now calls “follow-up images.”

Today, Nemo is about to turn 1, and out of the limelight. She shares a coop made by Gillian Griffiths and her father (“It’s very well designed,” says the former N.C. State engineering major) with four other chickens, Rocky, Ami, Brie, and Boomer, as in former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason, because “he looks like he has a helmet on.” They live in the backyard of the Griffiths’ house in Five Points, where they have lived for 25 years.

Nemo is the leader of the chicken pack and “very much wants to be with people.” Griffiths has to be careful not to let Nemo and her friends roam free around the yard too often. “It’s like a war zone. It’s like Attila; they dig everything up. It’s funny, but it’s not.”