In this exhibition of black and white photographs, Nick Brandt brings us the animals of East Africa. It is hard not to attribute human qualities to these animals. Dignified, grave, majestic, elegant, all apply. The photographs are portraits, and animals in the landscape, as opposed to documentary photography. Taken at close range after hours of observation, his subjects, the elephants, rhinos, giraffes and other creatures of the plain are awesome in their size and power, but what we see through his vision is their immense gravity. We see the animals in their natural habitat with the vast African sky behind them, in the grassy plains of the Serengeti and the rolling hills of the Maasai Mara. It is the elegiac tone of the work that makes us understand the tragedy of this vanishing beauty.
Brandt does not use telephoto lenses while photographing his subjects, preferring instead to get as close to the animals as possible. He uses a good local guide and follows the animals on foot or lies patiently in wait, frequenting places where the animals are used to the presence of humans. Brandt says he can see changes in the eight years he has been chronicling his subjects. With global warming, population pressures, and political uncertainty, the African environment is fragile. Even in the Serengeti, one of the best-known national parks, thousands of animals are slaughtered by poachers every year.
Nick Brandt lives in Topanga Canyon, California, after moving from London seventeen years ago. He has been photographing the animals of East Africa for eight years. It was during a visit to Africa, that he realized that he was where he wanted to be. Nick Brandt’s book A Shadow Falls is published by Abrams Books.