Falx, a Latin word used to describe various tools with curved blades or weapons, is also believed to be the origin of the English word, ‘falcon.’ For thousands of years, humans have sought to train birds of prey (falcons, hawks and eagles) as a tool to hunt wild quarry. Yet despite their attempts to master the birds, they have never been domesticated. Unlike other forms of human-animal relationships, the power balance between man and bird is less clear, if not entirely reversed.
Falx is an ongoing documentary project that aims to explore the unique community of current day falconers in the Southwest and the incredible connection between falconers and their birds of prey.
Falconry is most commonly associated with Central Asian and Middle Eastern nations and often seen as a historical oddity. While there are hundreds of thousands of shotgun hunters in the state of New Mexico, there are only about 60 registered falconers. During the time that I have spent talking to falconers, accompanying them on their hunts and learning about their craft, I was struck by the level of dedication and passion of the people involved in the sport.
The project explores the various aspects that make falconry so unique and fascinating: the relationship between man and raptor, the immense difficulties and challenges in training, and ultimately, the ability for two very separate species to come together and form a bond.
A Swiss-American dual citizen, Stefan Wachs was born and raised in Switzerland and moved to Santa Fe in 2005.
Largely self-taught, he was the recipient of a scholarship at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop in 2012 and subsequently started working for the program. He has worked with and assisted a wide range of photographers in fine art, commercial and documentary photography. He is currently pursuing his own career as a freelance photojournalist and editorial photographer.