“Like going to war.” This is how one of the wrestlers in photographer Ken Hermann and art director Gem Fletcher‘s project Bökh, describes Mongolian wrestling. Shot in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, the resulting portraits and short film pay respect to this ancient tradition. It’s a tradition that is still very much alive in the nomadic communities that account for 30% of the country’s population.
More Than Human is a series of images in which photographer Tim Flach highlights the physical characteristics of a variety of animal subjects. Each portrait is just oozing with personality and distinct, untamed qualities. As Flach says, “Animated by telling gestures, these photographs place us in an intimate relationship with their protagonist.”
The skilled photographer sets up complex lighting patterns and he crops his shots to highlight the intricate details of a bat’s wings, every furry black and white detail of a panda bear’s fur, the lines of skin on a primate’s hand, and the extremely intense gaze of a gorilla. As he draws his viewers into close proximity with his subjects, we unconsciously begin to consider their gestures in comparison to human behavior.
Flach says, “You can never predict an animal’s mood so you have to plan beforehand to get what you want.” He and his team work hard to make each subject comfortable by adjusting the studio accordingly, raising and lowering the temperature, turning music on or off, having the handler nearby, and generally setting up a safe environment. As a result of these techniques, as well as Flach’s skills behind the camera, we get to know each creature on a more personal level through movement, gestures, poses, and sometimes a smile.