Stares of the Animals
There are so many wonderful shots of animals and so many photographers dedicated to shooting them. I can't hope to capture the shots they do. But when I have the time and the opportunity to photograph them, I love to.
This project began with the shot of the Timber Wolf. After watching this wolf pacing back and forth and observing where it liked to pause and it's different routes, I decided I would plant myself in a spot with a specific framing in mind. Then I waited. After almost an hour, I was ready to walk away, but the light perked up and over he walked to gaze directly at me. I shot off about 6 frames in 2 seconds.
At home, that brief moment of connection with an apex predator stirred me. It was a surprisingly human moment. I felt as though something was communicated.
Not to over anthropomorphize, but views on animal intelligence and emotions are shifting. Research in evolutionary biology, cognitive ethology, and social neuroscience are confirming that many animals have complex and sometimes paradoxical emotional lives. We know that animals play and even experience joy. We've all seen the surprising video of the bear rescuing a drowning crow. And who can forget Jane Goodall's description of Flint's grief over the loss of Flo?
Someone told me that these shots were like sittings for a portrait photographer. That is the biggest compliment I could ever receive.
Bear saving crow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ_3BN0m7S8
Jane Goodall's story about Flint:
"Never shall I forget watching as, three days after Flo's death, Flint climbed slowly into a tall tree near the stream. He walked along one of the branches, then stopped and stood motionless, staring down at an empty nest. After about two minutes he turned away and, with the movements of an old man, climbed down, walked a few steps, then lay, wide eyes staring ahead. The nest was one which he and Flo had shared a short while before Flo died. . . . in the presence of his big brother [Figan], [Flint] had seemed to shake off a little of his depression. But then he suddenly left the group and raced back to the place where Flo had died and there sank into ever deeper depression. . . . Flint became increasingly lethargic, refused food and, with his immune system thus weakened, fell sick. The last time I saw him alive, he was hollow-eyed, gaunt and utterly depressed, huddled in the vegetation close to where Flo had died. . . . the last short journey he made, pausing to rest every few feet, was to the very place where Flo's body had lain. There he stayed for several hours, sometimes staring and staring into the water. He struggled on a little further, then curled up- and never moved again."
— Jane Goodall, Through a Window: My Thirty Years With The Chimpanzees of Gombe
Status: Ongoing Project