I don’t know how I lasted so long before citing the work of one of my favorites photographers, Nick Brandt. From music video director to photographer of Africa’s disappearing animals (see images here). Nick Brandt has left his past as a videographer and emerged as a unique photographer who shows the fragile and emotional side of wild animals in Africa: a vision that has never been communicated as such. His work, “On This Earth” is a book you should gift yourself. Beautifully printed, light sepia toned images, and truly inspiring of what can be done with vision and passion. His portraits of animals are captivating. He has an affection to his subjects.
What I am trying to do is give a feeling that this is a vanishing world. Sometimes the images look like they are from a bygone era. If they weer in color they would completely destroy that sensitivity. Often people say :”these feel like they are photographs from the 19th century”. That’s good, this animals are disapering, so if they feel like they are from a bygone era that’s the right feeling- Nick Brandt, from the Lenswork #61 Interview.
It was only five years ago that he discovered his new passion. He was in Africa shooting a Michael Jackson video when he first started taking photographs. Initially he took every available holiday in Africa. Now this is what he does for a living.
Nick’s exquisite photographs arouse deep emotions. They inspire a sense of awe at the beauty of creation and the sacredness of life. It’s almost impossible to look through his work without sensing the personalities of the beings whom he has photographed.- Jane Goodall (Author, Conservationist, Primatologist, UN Messenger of Peace)
NICK BRANDT ARTIST STATEMENT: … read below …
Very few photographers have ever really considered the photography of wildlife, as distinctly opposed to the genre of Wildlife Photography, as an art form. The emphasis has generally been on capturing the drama of wild animals IN ACTION, or capturing that dramatic single MOMENT, as opposed to simply animals in the state of BEING.
I’ve always thought this something of a wasted opportunity. The wild animals of Africa lend themselves to potentially extraordinary photographs, that extend aesthetically beyond the norm of 35mm-color telephoto wildlife photography. And so it is, that in my own way, I would like to go towards correcting that. My aim is that my photographs transcend what prior to this, was a purely documentative genre.
Aside from using certain absurdly impractical techniques, I do one thing that I believe makes a big difference : I get very, very close to the animals. I don’t use telephoto lenses, as I want to see as much of the sky and landscape as possible – to see the animals within the context of their environment. That way, the photos become about the atmosphere of the place as well as the animals.
And being that close to the animals, I get a real sense of intimate connection to them, to that specific animal in front of me. I love the feeling, want the feeling, that they’re almost presenting themselves for a studio portrait.
Why the animals of Africa in particular? And more particularly still, East Africa?
There is perhaps something more profoundly iconic, mythological even, about the animals of East Africa, as opposed to say, the Arctic or South America). And there is also something incredibly emotionally stirring about the plains of Africa – the vast green rolling plains punctuated by absurdly, perfectly graphic acacia trees.
My images are my elegy to a world that is steadily, tragically vanishing.- Nick Brandt