The last two posts have been focused on the horsemen of the Americas, but not enough has been said about the horses themselves. Portrait photographer Tim Flach is no stranger to photographing pets and animals, but in his series Equus, he not only captures images of different breed and colors of these domesticated mounts, he shows the beauty of the horse in all its wild and noble ways.
Tim Flach is no stranger to this blog; he's already been featured here for his sometimes amusing but always thought-provoking images of dogs. It's no surprise then that he is highly sought-after for his ability to capture animals in unorthodox styles for different purposes, from advertising shots to family photos. For him, an engagement with an animal subject doesn't merely mean another photo shoot, but a chance to create an animal portrait.
Over the years, he has honed his ability in trying to coax out emotion out of animals. Whether it's knowing when to take a break from the photo shoot, or allowing the handler or owner to be a few steps away, Flach understands what's needed to create the animal portrait his client wants.
Flach spent two years on this project, traveling around the world in order to capture different horse breeds, environments and behaviors. Aside from the obvious physical beauty of these creatures, Flach also wanted to capture something more abstract, looking at how people would react to something familiar presented in a new way. To illustrate his point, in the shot of the horses' necks and backs above, a viewer might liken them to the face of a mountain, but still be able to tell that they're part of a horse.
Thus, Flach is able to create something new out of something familiar. This may explain why he focused on animals in the first place as it allows him to evoke new imagery in the anthropomorphic manner that humans relate to other living things.
Indeed, in almost every photograph, the photographer is able to draw out different imagery not necessarily related to the original subject. For example, with his shot of a horse embryo, Flach feels that it's evocative of a tiny planet while the horse with an eye surgery mask looks more like a boxer.
Of course, it's not just the suggestive imagery that drew Flach to these animals, it's also the shared history between man and horse. Throughout man's history, the horse has been a subject of fascination and folklore; some of the earliest cave paintings depict equine creatures and Western civilization wouldn't have been possible without the domestication of the horse. Even now, horses are still used for work, sports and entertainment.
Even in the wild, some photographs depict the romantic image of the horse, whether it's an Arabian horse rearing on golden dunes or Mustangs racing across the range or a Camarigue horses galloping through the French wetlands, the photographs are always rooted in the human perception of all things.
Tim Flach's website is here, with more photographs from his Equus series. For a complete catalog of images, go for the book Equus. There's also a website dedicated solely to limited editions of the Equus book for those who are interested not only in the beauty of the horse but also on the book itself, aptly titled Equus Limited Edition. Don't forget about Flach's other photo book, Dogs, which is still also available.