Animal Rights/Vegan Activists' Strategies Articles

Nick Brandt and Jo-Anne McArthur on Photography and Creating Change for Animals

August 2022

To mark World Photography Day on August 19, We Animals Media Founder Jo-Anne McArthur sat down with world-renowned photographer Nick Brandt for a conversation on spellbinding images, bearing witness to animal suffering, speciesism, the emerging genre of animal photojournalism (APJ), and creating change in a desperate world.

Owl Harriet
Harriet and People in Fog, Zimbabwe, 2020. © Nick Brandt

Born and raised in London, Nick Brandt originally studied Painting and Film and now lives in the southern Californian mountains. Brandt has had multiple solo exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide, and in 2010 he co-founded Big Life Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting 1.6 million acres of ecosystem in East Africa. The themes of Nickís photographic works relate to the destructive impact that humankind is having on both the natural world and now humans themselves also.

Kuda and Sky, Zimbabwe, 2020. © Nick Brandt

Jo-Anne McArthur (JM): Nick, itís great to connect again. I love our chats. First things first: Your massive new body of work, The Day May Break (2021) is the first part of a global series portraying people and animals impacted by environmental destruction. I have the book and am mesmerized by the images and their execution. The project is being exhibited globally. The photos are insane, and I know you get all the usual assumptions about them being Photoshopped.

Nick Brandt (NB): Sigh. Yes I do. And before I launch into that, thank you for those kind words, and yes, we donít get to chat and sympathize enough with each other. But to cut to the chase, yes, the people and animals were photographed together in the same frame. This was possible because the photos were taken at sanctuaries where the animals are almost all long-term rescues, victims of everything from the poaching of their parents, to habitat destruction and wildlife trafficking. So these animals can never be released back into the wild. As a result, they are habituated, and so it was safe for human strangers to be close to them. It was also possible because the animal carers had such a good trusting relationship with all of the animals.



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