Sarah Hasted: This exhibition by Nick Brandt titled Across the Ravaged Land is the third part to the trilogy of his series On This Earth, A Shadow Falls. Nick Brandt originally started as a videographer in Hollywood and what took him to Africa was filming for Michael Jackson’s video called Earth Song. He went to Africa, saw the land, saw the animals, saw the beauty and fell in love with it and decided to change carriers completely. Nick Brandt always wanted to make portraits of the animals as if they were humans, he believes that animals are sentient beings that have every right, an equal right to live as any human being.
When he started doing the project in Africa, he started photographing the land so you will see initially, on the earlier pictures that the works are, sort of far away photographs of zebras migrating or wildebeest migrating through a river. The infrared film gave to it this luminous mysterious feel and the migrations have this mystic look to them, very vignetted and lovely. So, very cinematic, but not as close as I think he was hoping to be. What he realized is that every time he would go back the animals that he had photographed the time before, were being killed.
So, his transition from being far away to getting close and taking portraits was to document these animals and take portraits of them as if they are human beings. The lighting, the closeness, the lack of photoshop, the lack of a telephoto photo lens allowed him to connect with that animal and maybe gain a trust of that animal, he is as close as you think he is.
Nick made a photograph called Lion Before the Storm. He waited for sixteen hours for this lion thinking that maybe he was going to wake up and eventually this gust of wind sweep down and this lion lift of his head and it was one frame that he got and he got the most magnificent photograph of this lion. You can’t pose these animals, they’re not trained, they are not going to listen to you to move their head a little bit to the right or to move it a little bit to the left. Lion Before the Storm is a classic version of something that Nick would of done in video.
It’s a relationship, it’s husband and wife, it’s a boyfriend and girlfriend, it’s a terrific picture, but it is, sort of, captures exactly what he’s trying to do which is this emotion, this perfect relationship between animal emotion and human emotion. An elephant’s tusk can be a year’s salary for one of these poachers, he cares so much about this land and these animals that he decided to start this organization and try to make a difference. In three short years he has provided vehicles, men power, night vision goggles for these hired man power to patrol this entire vast amount of land that is a preserve. These animals are, indeed, at risk once they go out of the preserve but while they are in preserve he’s going to try to put these men on the ground to try to prevent these animals from being killed.
This article and video © galleryIntell. Images © Nick Brandt. Images courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler.
Los Angeles Times interview: “reFramed: In conversation with Nick Brandt“. Posted By: Barbara Davidson On October 21, 2013
Some of the images featured in the video are:
Elephant on Bare Earth
Lion Roar, Masai Mara, 2013
Elephant Mother with Baby at Leg, Amboseli, 2012
Wildebeest Arc, Maasai Mara, 2006
Lion with Monolith, Serengeti, 2008
Rhinos in Lake, Lake Nakuru, 2007
Giraffes on Lake Bed, Amboseli, 2012,
Elephant Scull, Amboselli, 2010
Elephants Walking Through Grass, Amboseli, 2008
Hippos on the Mara River, Maasai Mara, 2002
Lion Before Storm II – Sitting Profile, Maasai Mara, 2006
Lions Head to Head, Masai Mara, 2008
Ranger with Tusks of Killed Elephants, Amboseli, Kenya 2011.
Two Rangers with Tusks of Killed Elephant, Amboseli, 2011
Portrait of Elephant on Bare Earth, Amboseli, Kenya 2011.