Jill Greenberg is perhaps best known for her celebrity photography, but in her words "For my creative work, I photograph trained animals with studio lighting in traditional portrait setups to explore and draw parallels with human qualities and behaviours."
Her previous animal book was Monkey Portraits. In Bear Portraits, Greenberg "seeks to capture the awe that they inspire."
And she has done that. Because these are trained animals, she is able to get up close and personal. The close ups are astonishing and the details are crisp and clear.
There are shots of Polar, Brown, Kodiak, Black and Grizzly bears, many of them kept in Canada.
Amos, the 4 month old brown bear cub looks like a child's stuffed toy, cute and cuddly. It's hard to imagine him growing into an adult bear.
The shot of grizzled Ali Oop, an 8 ft. plus, 1400 pound Kodiak, 'smiling' is no less engaging.
The side by side portraits of a black bear, first looking down and kind of cuddly and then on all fours staring straight into the camera reminds us that these are not toys, but "magnificent creatures of immense power, emotion and beauty."His eyes have an almost human quality to them.
And that is what Greenberg captures - expressions and poses that we can attribute emotion to - surprise, curiosity and more.
There are quotes interspersed. My favourite? "Silly old bear." (Can you remember who said it?)
A beautiful, unique photographic essay.
Wow! I can't believe the photographer was able to get that close to a polar bear and not get hurt. It looks like a beautiful book.
I didn't realize you could train bears like that! I bet the book is gorgeous!
I enjoyed your review and was lucky enough to also get a copy to review. Isn't it one amazing book with the most clever little quotes? Thanks for your great post!
A smiling bear. How cool. But I'd rather use a lens to photograph from a safe distance. My thrill seeking days are long behind me.
Her pictures are amazing, aren't they?
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