Inspired by his love for animals in general and his cat Dwiezel in particular, young Belgian photographer Vincent Lagrange is currently working on an ongoing project called The Human Animal Project, where he photographs both domestic pets and wild animals in a very refined and serious manner.
‘‘Today most people photograph just people’’, says Lagrange, ‘‘but only a few photograph animals… I tried to photograph the animals as humans, depicting their emotion and human-like characteristics in a sombre way.’’ Indeed, Lagrange’s images focus on the most expressive aspects of his subjects, revealing striking similarities between animals and people: through his lens,not only cats and dogs but even reptiles and birds seem to acquire expressions that are full of character and wit. Needless to say, the process of creating these portraits was no easy task, since the photographer had to rearrange his props and lights constantly to accommodate the animals moving around at their own disposition in the studio!
THE HUMAN ANIMAL PROJECT
Even though I was studying photography at the time, the best teacher I had was my father. It all started for me with Dwiezel, the cat I held in my father’s studio. It was the perfect test subject, and became even more interesting to me when he lost an eye due to illness. The animals show emotions and I try to capture those in my portraits. Through animal photography I found a way to show my love for animals. Too many animals are discarded today, so I try to raise awareness for the animals around us. They have feelings as well, I can see this in their attitude and composure. Human Animals is to become a book to support this cause; I hope to touch people’s hearts with these pictures, especially those hearts that have never felt this kind of love for animals before. One of the greatest challenges photographing animals is making them feel at ease. To accomplish this I try to build an environment that mimics their natural habitat, either on location, or at the studio in Antwerp. I actively avoid the use of flashes or strobe lights; I work with soft, constant lightning so the animals do not feel frightened or get startled.
Check these amazing expressive animal portraits: