Often I take pictures of animals.

But that is rarely the goal.

The goal is to create animal portraits.

There’s a big difference.

Portraiture is an effort to cause a deeper level of connection between the viewer and the subject. To communicate to the viewer something deeper regarding what it’s like to exist for the subject- whether the subject is a lizard or an elephant, the goal is the same. Can I accentuate something about that animal that causes the viewer to want to gain a deeper understanding?

And I’m basing the entire concept on the face to face encounters I’ve had with wild animals in their natural environments.

When two different species are face to face for whatever reason how can anyone deny that there is some attempted communication?

Whether it’s flight, fight, or play something is being communicated.

When animals become acclimated to the presence of people, they’re defenses start to go down. The ‘wait and see’ part is diminishing to the point that the animals accept that we’re all just here together. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this makes them any less dangerous. The fact of the matter is, it could make them even more dangerous.

Animals have their own language. It’s based on instinctive rules of survival and reproduction. If you study the animals and how they behave, you can begin to understand the rules, and therefore the language.

I am fascinated by the bond that can evolve between animals and people. There are countless profound examples of this all around us. I’ve lived in remote places periodically throughout my life and have also seen the beginning of bonds with the wild animals around me start to form.

I have some deep convictions regarding the implications of my observations.

I don’t think many people will find these implications very agreeable or convenient.

Ultimately, I believe all animals need us as both stewards and protectors. I believe this relationship needs to be established and maintained from the perspective that it must also evolve and change as understanding and the level of information evolves and changes.

Native American beliefs claim that everything around us, plants, animals, even the wind is constantly trying to give us information. It is up to each of us to learn the ‘language’ of the presenter of the information.

If a certain amount of this type of understanding doesn’t occur between species then how is it we, as a species, came to have domesticated cats and dogs as well as a myriad of other pets?

So ultimately, my work in animal portraiture is meant to inspire a deeper sense of curiosity, empathy, connection, and responsibility to both the individual animals I photograph and their species overall.

To view my ever growing galleries of both animals and animal portraits please visit my gallery site – www.williammaderas.smugmug.com

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