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Lensman straight out of a black and white saga

Lensman straight out of a black and white saga

By Jaison Wilson

New Delhi, Sept 10 (UNI) Renowned for his snapshots of nature in a dense and high-contrast monochrome style, French photographer Laurent Baheux recognised as one of the most important wildlife photographers in the world.

In 2013, he became a goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in a campaign combating poaching called 'Wild & Precious'. In an exclusive interview with UNI, Mr Baheux explained his favourite terms 'instinct' and 'terrain' in the wildlife photography.

For over 15 years, Mr Baheux has been rewriting archetypal style of wildlife photography with an approach to capture the 'personality' and 'humanity' in every animal as distinct individuals. He adopts the role of wildlife portrait artist, where aesthetics and sensitivity take precedence over a more documentary style.

"When I take a picture of a lion, a giraffe, a polar bear or a bison I have the same approach as when I photograph people. I try to catch the animal’s unique personality and expressiveness, as well as their strength and sense of freedom”, he said. About his love for black and white medium Mr Baheux said, " When I first started my career as a Photo journalist in 1994, I worked only with black and white silver films.

Because of that experience, I have always had an interest in, and an affinity for, this technique. Later, when I was expressing my own approach to photographing wildlife, I realised I was only seeing it in black and white." In his opinion, black and white is the best medium to express the solitary emotion and vitality of nature and wildlife. " Most of my work concentrates on simple scenes of animals’ daily life.

All I want to present is what animals are the abundance of life on Earth. Duo tone allows me to better capture the magnificence of their attitudes, their vividness and their emotions", he added. One of his major works 'The Family Album of Wild Africa' aims to convey to its audience the uniqueness of wild African species.

About his favourite 'terrain' African continent, Mr Baheux said, "When I first began photographing Africa in the early 2000s, I was still working with international sports agencies. My African trip was a personal one. There was no specific target, no pressure and no brief. I started capturing African wildlife for my own pleasure. And that changed my life both professionally and personally.

" From thereon, he continued exploring all those territories where wildlife can express itself freely, and capturing some memories in black and white. Most of his art about the animals of Africa, America and very shortly of Arctica is featured in galleries around the world.

Close-up or misaligned shots, noise or grain, stark and deep blacks, he explores every possibility in order to magnify his subject rather than simply showing it. He works with the teNeues editions, an international editor who follows him in each new black and white project.

Mr Baheux is an active member of environmental protection organisations such as the WWF, the Good Planet foundation, the Jane Goodall institute and the Cheetah for Ever association.

When answering to a question about his environmental activism he shared his worries about the nature. "I think that the communication of organisations I work with evolves towards a certain aesthetic and artistic vision. I believe people are fed up with shocking images of destruction, poaching and deforestation – even though those images are important to share because we all must know what is happening on our planet. I don’t know if there is hope and unfortunately, I am not optimistic about the situation of the wild on Earth."

His photographs are on show in galleries and featured in a number of books, publications and exhibitions in France and around the world. His new series of photographs called 'Ice is Black' is expected to release this month. UNI JW SHK 1712

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