“Nick Brandt’s latest work is both gorgeous and disturbing…Brandt has deftly turned his art into a call for action.” – Jack Crager, American Photo, 10 Best New Photobooks Spring 2016
Born just over 50 years ago in 1964 England, Nick Brandt and thus become one of the most influential wildlife photographers of his time.
Exclusively working within the African Continent, Brandt has described his goal is to “record a last testament to the wild animals and places there before they are destroyed by the hands of man.” and 16 years ago, he started just that. Beginning in East Africa, Brandt would focus of capturing the beauty of Mother Nature and her animals before they were destroyed due to human activity.
Brandt, himself, has stated that he prefers not to use any form of zoom or telephoto lens, as he feels “the personality of the animals photographed can only be well captured up close.” Because of this, many photography critics, like Vicki Goldberg for example, have stated that Brandt’s work “convey a rare sense of intimacy, as if Brandt knew the animals, had invited then to sit for his camera, and has a prime portraitists’ intuition of character…
“The wasted lands in Inherit The Dust were once golden savannah, sprinkled with acacia trees, where elephants, big cats and rhinos roamed. These now dystopian landscapes – as Nick Brandt’s unvarnished, harrowing but stunning work reveals – brings us face to face with a crisis, both social and environmental, demanding the renewal of humanity itself.” – Kathryn Bigelow, Film Director, The Hurt Locker
The Trilogy – Book One
In 2000, Brandt started on the first section of his three photography books.
On This Earth consists of 66 photos, all taken from between 2000 and 2004. With introductions by Jane Goodall, conservationist and primatologist, as well as author Alice Sebold, the photographs show the unaltered side of the African paradise. Brandt focused on this idea of an animal utopia and an idyllic landscape, to allow his future books to contradict the message he’s portraying.
The cover photo used for On This Earth, titled as ‘Elephant with Exploding Dust’, taken in the Amboseli National Park, in 2004, has since become one of Brandt’s best known pieces.
Black and White magazine have thus described Brandt’s work as “heartbreakingly beautiful”.
“An evocative portrait of change and loss.” – Wall Street Journal
The Trilogy – Book Two
Nine years after the publication of On This Earth, Brandt thus produced his second book of the trilogy; A Shadow Falls.
Regarded to be superior to On This Earth, A Shadow Falls features only 58 photos, taken between 2005 and 2008. Photography critic Vicki Goldberg, once again describes Brandt’s work as “a love story without a happily ever after.”
Within his new publication, Brandt carefully planned the layout of the book, to dramatically change with every page turn. Starting with “an unspoiled lush green world, filled with animals and water”, as show by the ‘Wildebeest Arc’, the book the begins to show the substantial changes caused by mankind the further you go. Towards the end, the image ‘Abandoned Ostrich Egg’ sums up the effect that humans have had on the world, with dying trees, parched lakes and animals reduced to minimal number
“I had a vision in mind: I wanted to create an elegy, a likely last testament to an extraordinary, beautiful natural world and its denizens that is rapidly disappearing before our eyes. I wanted to show these animals as individual spirits, sentient creatures equally as worthy of life as us.” – Nick Brandt
The Trilogy – Book Three
To complete his trilogy, Brandt successfully published his third book; Across the Ravaged Land.
Released 13 years after On This Earth, Across the Ravaged Land records the near complete disappearance of East Africa and it’s wildlife.
Revealing the darker side of humanity within the animal kingdom, Brandt starts to introduce humans within his photographs, as shown in ‘Ranger with Tusks of Elephant Killed at the Hands of Man’
Critics have described Across the Ravaged Land as “Dedicated to the billions of animals, past, present and future, that have died without reason at the hands of man, the book is the culmination of more than a decade of work. Over those years the pulations of elephants, lions, and other large mammals have fallen precipitously, while Brandt’s vision and his attachment to his subjects have intensified. His images of animals resonate with a simple idea: That the sentient creatures in his portraits are not so different from us and have an equal right to live.”
“My images are my elegy to these beautiful creatures, to this wrenchingly beautiful world that steadily, tragically vanishing before our eyes.” – Nick Brandt
Inherit The Dust
Three years after the final book in Brandt’s trilogy was published, the photographer once again travelled back to East Africa.
This final trip meant that Brandt could capture the ever escalating changes of the natural world. Brandt states how within just 16 years, mankind can cause such a destruction to the world we live in, “we are living through the antithesis of genesis right now. It took billions of years to reach a place of such wondrous diversity, and then in just a few shockingly short years, an infinitesimal pinprick of time, to annihilate that.”
Inherit The Dusk captures a vast range of epic panoramas, that record the impact that humans have had on the places where animals used to live. To portray the extensive and limitless obliteration made to the world, Brandt uses a previous unpublished photograph of his and erects the life sized image within the newly developed areas. Recent changes such as factories, urban development, quarries and wastelands, show the desolation that East Africa now holds. Such an example is ‘Wasteland with Elephant’.
“My images are unashamedly idyllic and romantic, a kind of enchanted Africa. They’re my elegy to a word that is steadily, tragically vanishing.” – Nick Brandt
“I want to get a real sense of intimate connection with each of the animals – with that particular lion or elephant in front of me. I believe that being that close to the animal makes a huge difference in the photographers ability to reveal its personality. 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.” – Nick Brandt