Inspiration: The Exceptional Work by Photographer Nick Brandt

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We are kicking off the week with a look at the incredible work by wildlife photographer, Nick Brandt.

Born in 1964 and raised in London, Brandt studied Painting, and then Film at Saint Martin’s School of Art. He moved to the United States in 1992 and directed many award-winning music videos for the likes of Michael Jackson, Moby, Jewel and more. It was while directing “Earth Song”, a music video for Jackson in Tanzania, in 1995 that Brandt fell in love with the animals and land of East Africa.

In 2001, Brandt embarked upon his ambitious photographic project: a trilogy of books to memorialize the vanishing natural grandeur of East Africa.

His photography from 2001 to 2012 bore little relation to the colour documentary-style wildlife photography that is the norm. He photographed on medium-format black and white film without telephoto or zoom lenses. (He used a Pentax 67II with only two fixed lenses.) His work was a combination of epic panoramas of animals within dramatic landscapes and graphic portraits more akin to studio portraiture of human subjects from a much earlier era as if these animals were already long dead.

“I’m not interested in creating work that is simply documentary or filled with action and drama, which has been the norm in the photography of animals in the wild. What I am interested in is showing the animals simply in the state of Being. In the state of Being before they are no longer are. Before, in the wild at least, they cease to exist. This world is under terrible threat, all of it caused by us. To me, every creature, human or nonhuman, has an equal right to live, and this feeling, this belief that every animal and I are equal, affects me every time I frame an animal in my camera. The photos are my elegy to these beautiful creatures, to this wrenchingly beautiful world that is steadily, tragically vanishing before our eyes.” [Nick Brandt]

Three years after the conclusion of his trilogy, On This Earth, A Shadow Falls Across the Ravaged Land, Nick Brandt returned to East Africa to photograph the escalating changes to the continent’s natural world. Brandt writes in the essay in the book: “We are living through the antithesis of genesis right now. It took billions of years to reach a place of such wondrous diversity, and then in just a few shockingly short years, an infinitesimal pinprick of time, to annihilate that.”

In a series of epic panoramas, Brandt records the impact of man in places where animals used to roam, but no longer do. In each location, Brandt erected a life-size panel of one of his earlier (unpublished) animal portrait photographs, setting the panels within a world of explosive urban development, factories, wasteland, and quarries. The people within the photographs carry on with their lives, oblivious to the animals that are now no more than ghosts in the landscape. [Wikipedia]

Watch as Nick discusses his work as well as the thoughts behind this incredible project. We thought you might also be interested to see how this all came together logistically behind-the-scenes, so we’ve included the clip for that below.

The video formed part of the Photographer Spotlight Series by LA Review of Books. Be sure to tune into their YouTube channel for more amazing content. The behind-the-scenes video forms part of Nick’s own YouTube channel, you can find that here. Also keep up with more from Nick via his websiteFacebook or Twitter.

 

Author: Michelle Joubert-Martin