From Fowl to Zebras: Animals as You've Never Seen Them Before

It's easy to take this amazing planet we inhabit for granted. While National Geographic's school of nature photography may have its place, there's something remarkable and whimsical that happens when a fine art photographer takes her lens to Earth's creatures -- they become poetry. Today, we turn to five such photographers, whose portraits of animals -- unusual, otherworldly, kooky, tender, charismatic -- make the eye swoon and the heart sing.

1. ANDREW ZUCKERMAN: CREATURE

Andrew Zuckerman is one of my absolute favorite photographers working today, his Wisdom and Music projects are priceless time-capsules of contemporary culture and his thoughts on curiosity and rigor as the key to creativity is a beautiful articulation of my own credo. In Creature, Zuckerman brings his exquisite signature style, crisp yet tender, to Earth's beings. With equal parts detail and delight, he captures the spirt of these diverse creatures, from panthers to fruit bats to bald eagles, in a way that makes them seem familiar and fresh at once, and altogether breathtaking.

Asian Elephant

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

Six banded armadillo

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

Mandrill Monkey

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

Grant's Zebra

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

Common Dove

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

Canary

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

African Crested Porcupine

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

Reticulated Giraffe

Image courtesy of Andrew Zuckerman

The project also features a companion children's alphabet book (and we know how much I love those) titled Creature ABC. In 2008, Zuckerman followed up with the equally exquisite Bird.

2. TIM FLACH: DOGS

From photographer Tim Flach and Creative Review editor Lewis Blackwell comes Dogs -- a series of incredibly artful, soulful portraits of man's best friend, first featured here several months ago.

With a potent blend of playfulness and profound respect, Flach captures the remarkable diversity of dogs, both of appearance and of character, and our complex relationship with them in a poetic and spellbinding visual narrative.

From shelter dogs to show-winners to dogs who sniff out explosives, the book spans an incredible range of personalities, portrayed in beautiful images generously stretched across full-bleed double-page spreads and lined with insightful commentary on everything from dog racism (did you know that there are more black dogs in shelters than any other fur color?) to historical background on how different breeds came to be and curious facts about them.

They can entertain us, protect us, teach us how to love, do what they are told, and tell us what is going to happen next. They can even extend our lives. We think we train them to do the work, but they have in turn found a way for us to provide for them. This great form that has forged so many different kinds of dog is the inspiration for this book. The result is an unprecedented insight and visualization of what dogs are and can be.

3. TAMARA STAPLES: FAIREST FOWL

Presented by

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Entertainment

Just In