[Editor’s Note: The following is the third in a series of posts on animal photography]
With his trademark immaculate lighting and clear artistic vision, photographer Tim Flach has created an iconic style unlike any other. His unique blend of clean composition, distinctive style and a quietly philosophical outlook come together to transcend accepted photographic boundaries and achieve a certain timelessness.
Where others simply portray an animal’s character, Flach ventures further to inject intrigue and wonderment into his images. Flach’s quietly powerful photographs go beyond evoking feelings towards an animal, to examining the essence of our relationship with it. His books Dogs: Gods and Equus both feature images that, while stylized, avoid obvious compositions. They bring to light Flach’s rare ability to challenge traditional depictions and attain commercial success at the same time.
From his spacious London studio, the multi-award-winning photographer, shares his craft and distinguished career.
Hannah Gal: Can you tell us about your journey as a photographer?
Tim Flach: The early part of my life was paying the rent. I started doing anything that would pay the bills and muddled my way through. I did pretty much anything from corporate and design to financial [photography]. It was only ten years into my career that I started working with animals.
HG: How was that period helpful to your career?
TF: Muddling my way through different industries required fast adjustment and I got lots of tools on the way. I can, for example, visualize light on location because of that.
HG: What has the world of advertising taught you?
TF: In advertising photography, you learn that fulfilling demand for a commission is key. The brand is paramount and you learn to deliver the essence of it through photographs. You also learn that huge, massive equipment is not necessary in order to achieve great results.
HG: Speaking of equipment, your setup is a photographer’s dream!
TF: We need to be careful not to be distracted by technology. My studio fits the needs of the animals I photograph but a spacious air conditioned studio does not necessarily make photographs better.
HG: How do you feel about today’s photography?
TF: We are moving from a word to an image culture, with image taking more center stage. I can see why some photographers might view it as a threat but I do not. It just means that there are more people participating in the image making process. It is much like a pyramid with more people at various levels taking pictures and joining in but you can clearly distinguish what is special. Historically, photographers could easily separate their work from layman where today it is becoming more difficult.
HG: What advice would you give photographers in awe of your achievement?
TF: Be honest about what you value and don’t forget why you started photography in the first place. Think of the observer of the image and what you want people to get from your work.
HG: What is important to you in your work now?
TF: My evolution is one from survival to luxury of taking a longer view. And I can now ‘hit people over the head’ with an idea. If I take pictures of animals, I like to raise ethical questions and show the wonderment of nature.