On This Earth, A Shadow Falls- Nick Brandt

blogEntryTopperNick Brandt started photographing the animals of East Africa around the year 2000 and in 2005 produced the first book, On This Earth. Since then two more books have been published, A Shadow Falls and Across the Ravaged Land. This particular volume, which I got this year, is the Artist's Edition book, entitled, On this Earth, a Shadow Falls, (Big Life Editions) was published in 2010, combining the best 90 photos from the first two books, in a larger volume with much superior printing to the first two books.

Brandt’s work is nothing like the colour documentary style that is prevalent in wildlife photography today. He photographs on medium format using black and white film and does not use telephoto or zoom lenses. The resulting work is a combination of wide panoramas and close up portraits. He photographs the animals as he would a person.

Brandt has said "You wouldn't take a portrait of a human being from a hundred feet away and expect to capture their spirit; you'd move in close."


In his afterword in On This Earth, Brandt explains the reasons for the methods he uses:
“I’m not interested in creating work that is simply documentary or filled with action and drama, which has been the norm in the photography of animals in the wild. What I am interested in is showing the animals simply in the state of Being. In the state of Being before they are no longer are. Before, in the wild at least, they cease to exist. This world is under terrible threat, all of it caused by us. To me, every creature, human or nonhuman, has an equal right to live, and this feeling, this belief that every animal and I are equal, affects me every time I frame an animal in my camera. The photos are my elegy to these beautiful creatures, to this wrenchingly beautiful world that is steadily, tragically vanishing before our eyes.”


His work is at once monumental and reflective. There is an intimacy to the images and an unhurried gaze which reveals and rejoices in the personality of these magnificent creatures. There is real engagement with the animals by Brandt and it leaps off the pages. They are shown at rest and reflective, or on the move, alert, in communal gatherings, supportive and protective.



The book itself is a very fine example of quality printing. Large, 14in by 15in it’s hardcover is bound in linen with an inset cover plate. The pages inside is like fine photographic baryta paper. Most photos are printed in a light sepia and the quality binding allows the book to open pretty flat to view the panoramas that can stretch to 26 inches or so.




A quality package all round and worth seeking out by the animal and photographer lover alike.

Nick Brandt gives some background to the photos on his website here