Over 40,000 years ago, we began to depict animals in cave drawings. Throughout history, mankind’s consistent portrayal of animals in art is a testament to the importance of our connection with the animal kingdom. As mankind evolved, so did our artwork. We began to not only depict but personify animals. We began to see our human emotions in animals. This anthropomorphism or personification connected us to animals on a deeper and more emotional level. This collection of work is my perspective and portrayal of the animal kingdom. As a portrait photographer, my intention is for these animal portraits to speak to us. What they say depends on the conscious and subconscious feelings we embody. By photographing each animal in-studio on a neutral background, I am creating a portrait that is focused on the animal only and often the eyes are the focal point. This deconstructive approach to portraiture allows us to experience the creature in a way otherwise not possible. Through this language of simplistic portraiture, these photographs are aimed to elicit an emotion in the viewer. Whether it’s beauty, power, or humor, I want to give animals the opportunity to tell their story and to connect with you us an emotional level.
A portrait is a collaboration between subject and artist. These are no different. I am working with the animal itself and typically the animal’s owner or trainer. Without collaboration from subjects on both sides of the camera, it would be impossible to create these unique portraits. My process starts with photographing the animal in-studio and crafting lighting that is simple but executed exceptionally well. The backgrounds in my portraits are a neutral color that compliments the animal without being distracting. During the shooting process, it’s not uncommon that an animal gives you just a glimpse of its personality. My need to stay on point and focused is imperative in capturing that split second when an animal reveals itself. To finish the process, I apply a simple treatment of dodging and burning to the image in post-production (retouching). These subtle adjustments to color and contrast allow me to further push the image to a place that is tactile while at the same time soft and aesthetically pleasing. And of course, these are animals. We love them, we respect them, but we cannot control them. It’s up to them to decide the story being told. And at the end of the day, if the photo gods shine down upon us, we get to see just a brief glimpse into their soul.