Having had a look at the work of Ansel Adams, this week we’re taking a peek at British photographer Nick Brandt.
Born in 1966 and raised in London, he photographs exclusively in Africa. His goal to record the wild animals and landscape there before they are destroyed.
Brandt moved to the United States in 1992 where he directed music videos for artists such as Michael Jackson, Moby and Badly Drawn Boy. While directing ‘Earth Song’ for Jackson he fell in love with East Africa. It was at that point he decided to capture the animals and landscape in a way that had not been achieved before – through a trilogy of photographic books.
Brandt doesn’t use a telephoto or zoom lens instead preferring to get up close and reveal the animals personalities with medium-format black and white film. This is what makes his intimate images of animals in dramatic landscapes and portraits so striking.
The first book in Nick Brandt’s trilogy, On This Earth, includes 66 photographs from 2000-2004. They showcase an African paradise which contrasts his subsequent books. Elephant with Exploding Dust is one of Brandt’s best-known images.
A Shadow Falls features 58 photographs from 2005-2008. As the title suggests, this second part of the trilogy takes a more melancholic stance. A critic described it as a love story without the happily ever after. The opening images show an unspoiled lush green world but become starker – an abandoned ostrich egg on a parched lake bed the most poignant.
The final part of the trilogy, Across the Ravaged Land, was published in 2013. It documents the disappearing natural world and animals in East Africa – humans are introduced for the first time. The image of the ranger with tusks of an elephant was taken before Big Life was created – a foundation Brandt started in 2010. The charity now employs 280 rangers and protects 2 million acres of wilderness in East Africa.
Although Brandt shoots on film, he scans his negatives then dodges and burns the images. He doesn’t add or clone animals or skies – the scenes are exactly as he saw them. His large limited edition prints have sold for up to $160,000. Brandt has had multiple solo exhibitions worldwide with his first seeing 140,000 visitors.
All photographs in this post were taken by Nick Brandt. For further information please do check out his website. You can also visit the Artsy Nick Brandt page which provides access to over 50 of Nick Brandt’s works and up to date exhibition listings.