Nick Brandt (born 1964) is an English photographer who photographs exclusively in the African continent, one of his goals being to record a last testament to the wild animals and places there before they are destroyed by the hands of man.
In 2001, Brandt embarked upon his ambitious photographic project: a trilogy of books to memorialize the vanishing natural grandeur of East Africa. As American photography critic Vicki Goldberg writes: “Many pictures convey a rare sense of intimacy, as if Brandt knew the animals, had invited them to sit for his camera, and had a prime portraitist’s intuition of character…as elegant as any arranged by Arnold Newman for his human high achievers“.
In his afterword in On This Earth, Brandt explained the reasons for the methods he used at that time:
“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.”
The first book in the trilogy, On This Earth (Chronicle Books, 2005) constitutes 66 photos taken 2000–2004, with introductions by the conservationist and primatologist Jane Goodall and the author Alice Sebold. Critical response to the book, heralded Brandt’s photographic achievement. Black and White magazine called his photos “heartbreakingly beautiful“. The second book in the trilogy, A Shadow Falls, (Abrams, 2009) features 58 photographs taken 2005–2008. In additional introductions, philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, explains why Brandt’s photographs speak to an increasing human moral conscience about our treatment of animals. The photography critic Vicki Goldberg places Brandt’s work in the history of the medium. The completion of Nick Brandt’s trilogy: “On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, Across the Ravaged Land.” Release date, 3 September 2013 (Abrams Books, 2013), documents the disappearing natural world and animals of East Africa. “Across the Ravaged Land” introduces humans in his photography for the first time. One such example is Ranger with Tusks of Elephant Killed at the Hands of Man, Amboseli 2011. This photograph features one of the rangers employed by Big Life Foundation, the Foundation that Nick Brandt started in 2010. The ranger holds the tusks of an elephant killed by poachers in the years prior to the Foundation’s inception.
Inherit The Dust (Edwynn Houk Editions, 2016). Three years after the conclusion of his trilogy, On This Earth, A Shadow Falls Across the Ravaged Land, Nick Brandt returned to East Africa to photograph the escalating changes to the continent’s natural world. Brandt writes in the essay in the book: “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.”