On This Earth: Photographs from East Africa
Chronicle, 2005 (2005)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
lice Sebold, author of
The Lovely Bones
, wrote the lyrical Foreword to this spectacular (black and white) photo album,
On This Earth
. She tells us that '
Nick Brandt is documenting a world apart, and, though he knows in his soul it is a world disappearing daily, he is also sending up a song in his grief.
' In her Introduction, Jane Goodall tells us that '
Nick has captured the individuality of his animal subjects
' and pleas to '
stop our senseless destruction of life and beauty before it is too late.
his magnificent book opens on a young lionness looking across the plains, an image of possibility. The photo of a Crater Pool at Ngorongoro is simply beautiful. Ostriches seem to be in a chat session, while running. Chimps' eyes are full of wisdom - one feels they have answers, if only we could ask the right questions. Wrinkled rhino and elephant mothers keep their babies close, and a mama giraffe is equally watchful. Another giraffe peers down into a Kenya doorway, while a zebra ambles in. Storks pose high on spindly treetops. An exodus of elephants march across double pages, the one on the cover image stamping up '
'. A horde of wildebeest swim across a river together. Many of these marvelous creatures (especially the lions) look straight at the camera, a question in their eyes.
n his Afterword, Brandt speaks of instances of '
failure as a photographer
' - wildlife experiences that were impossible either to photograph or to forget. He avoids telephoto lenses, but instead gets '
very, very close to the animals
' to frame them in their natural context. He speaks of the stirring plains of Africa and their
creatures - '
It just gets you. Gets you in the heart, gets you in the gut.
' If I didn't already have a copy, this remarkable book would be at the top of my holiday wish list. It reveals the personalities and vulnerability of animals at ease amongst their own in a fast shrinking wilderness. In
On This Earth
, Nick Brandt demonstrates his impressive talents as an Ansel Adams of African wildlife photography.
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