Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Poetic Photography of Nick Brandt

"Few photographers have ever considered the photography of wild animals, 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, on 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 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 yank the subject matter of wildlife into the arena of fine art photography. To take photographs that transcend what has been a largely documentative genre... I get extremely close to these very wild animals, often within a few feet of them... And being that close to the animals, I get a real sense of intimate connection to them, to the specific animal in front of me. Sometimes a deliberate feeling that they're almost presenting themselves for a studio portrait."      

Nick Brandt, photographer

"Why the animals of Africa in particular? And more particularly still, East Africa? There is perhaps something more profoundly iconic, mythical, mythological even, about the animals of East Africa... There is something deeply deeply, emotionally stirring and affecting about the plains of Africa - the vast green rolling plains punctuated by by the graphically perfect acacia trees."

"My images are unashamedly idyllic and romantic, a kind of enchanted Africa. They're my elegy to a world that is steadily, tragically vanishing." ~ Nick Brandt, April 2004

(The abridged quote above has been courtesy of:

Image courtesy of:

I happened upon the work of Nick Brandt about ten months ago, quite accidentally: a friend of mine (L.R.H.) had a photograph of a lion in regal repose, with wind blowing through his mane [see the opening photo above] saved as a screen saver on his i-phone. That singularly serene image made such an impression on me that I eventually found a book of Mr. Brandt's entitled, On This Earth - I was struck by the sheer poetic romanticism of his black and white images of wild animals, rendered in stunning variations of grey.  

The above images are courtesy of:

Nick Brandt was born (in 1966) and raised in London, England, where he studied film and painting at St. Martin's School of Art. Mr. Brandt began his photographic career in East Africa in 2000. He is no longer a film director but is a full-time photographer. From 2003-2010, Mr. Brandt has exhibited his photographic work in numerous cities, including: London, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, San Francisco, Hamburg, Munich, Sydney, Melbourne, Amsterdam, and Brussels.

Mr. Brandt now resides in Topanga, California.

(Note: the above photograph has been discontinued by Mr. Brandt)

(Note: the above photograph has been discontinued by Mr. Brandt)

The eleven images above are courtesy of:

The twenty-three images above are courtesy of:

(Note: the above photograph has been discontinued by Mr. Brandt)

The four images above are courtesy of:

The thirteen images above are all courtesy of:

You may wish to make a difference by supporting Nick Brandt's cause on behalf of Africa's endangered wildlife and to bring poaching to an end. Please do so at: Big Life Foundation. You may also be interested in exploring more of Mr. Brandt's extensive photographic work at Artsy's Nick Brandt page, the online art/gallery website, where you will find more than fifty of Mr. Brandt's evocative images as well as up-to-date exhibition listings. 

Recommended readings:

On This Earth: Photographs from East Africa (2005), by Nick Brandt,with forewords by Jane Goodall and Alice Sebold: Chronicle Books

A Shadow Falls (2009), by Nick Brandt, with forewords by Vicki Goldberg & Peter Singer: Abrams Books


  1. Nick is one of the most talented photographers I have observed. Each time I view one of his images, I feel like I am looking into to soul of Africa.

  2. Dear Luke - you are quite right, looking at Mr. Brandt's photographic work is akin to looking into the soul (and heart) of Africa. Well said.

    Thank you for your comment.