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Creature    by Andrew Zuckerman order for
by Andrew Zuckerman
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I don't have enough superlatives to adequately convey my impressions of Andrew Zuckerman's Creature, a spectacular photograhic exhibition in a coffee table sized book. Each of the magnificent - and varied - critters portrayed is shown from several unusual perspectives - zooming in and out - against a pure white background. They often seem to be in motion through these extraordinary pages.

In his Introduction, Graham Nash says that 'This book speaks to me about the contact we have with the many different species that inhabit this planet with us.' He speaks lyrically of creatures that 'reveal the very essence of life in all its ragged glory' and reminds us that each one's 'originality demands attention.' The animals pictured here range from the Chimpanzee to the Emperor Scorpion, taking in all kinds of mammals (including the blue-eyed Black Leopard cub featured on the cover), birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and fish (an index at the back lists Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species for each of them.

Andrew Zuckerman's photographs are all so impressive that it's hard to pick out favorites. They range from the weird - the Six-Banded Armadillo or the Slow Loris - to the wonderful like the Asian Elephant or the Giraffe. The chimp's gaze captured me and I continue to ponder what is he thinking? Many creatures' stares tell us firmly that it's their world too. The photographer made me see beauty in creatures I sensibly avoid like snakes, tarantula and crocodile (which is introduced by a picture of its five-fingered paw). He made the Egyptian Fruit Bat and a Screech Owl take flight from his pages. I love the closeups of a Cockatoo's pink feathers and fine details of a Turtle's ancient shell and a Porcupine's functional quills.

At the back of his book, photographer Andrew Zuckerman tells readers that these images 'are the product of a journey of discovery and of learning how to connect with the soul and the essence of all creatures.' He shares his own life experiences that helped shape his art, and explains what led to his setting his pictures of animals from around the world against a white background, and the techniques developed to capture them 'stoic, frozen and engaged in singular thought.' Indeed when you look into the eyes of each creature here, a thinking, feeling individual looks back. Creature is a splendid book for anyone who loves nature in all its diversity - it's highly recommended and would make a superb gift!

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