Photographer Captures Striking Studio Portraits To Show a Dignified Side of Wild Animals

Golden Tiger by Brad Wilson

Golden Tiger
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Driven by the notion of an “authentic encounter,” photographer Brad Wilson has spent the better part of a decade snapping pictures of animals. Working with zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, he brings creatures into his studio and, setting them against a black background, captures a portrait worthy of any dignitary. Now, he's bringing together his best work in a new book titled The Other World: Animal Portraits.

When Wilson brings these living animals into his studio, he allows them to behave as they naturally would. It's within this environment that magic occurs. Wilson actually describes his work as “meditations in the middle of organized chaos–lots of human activity and animal movement–with little actual control.” In fact, he estimates that he spends 99% of his time observing and just 1% of his time clicking the shutter.

It's here that his experience shines through, as Wilson is able to discern those fleeting moments that merit a photograph. Thanks to this ability, he captures the soul of each animal. And by using a plain backdrop, Wilson has made the purposeful choice to capture an animal portrait just as he would with any human.

“Portraying wild creatures in this manner questions the underlying nature of identity–what it means to be human and what it means to be animal,” he shares with My Modern Met. “The resulting image offers the viewer a powerful sense of intimacy and authentic encounter–an experience not normally possible in the wild, or even in captive settings.”

With his new book, Wilson hopes that people will gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of animals. “I hope the book can stand as a worthy testament to our wild relatives, a bridge of sorts, to remind us that we are not alone, we are not separate; we are part of a profoundly interconnected diversity of life. In each animal’s gaze, we see a part of ourselves and catch a fleeting glimpse of another world, a world we once fully inhabited.”

The Other World: Animal Portraits, published by Damiani, is now available.

Photographer Brad Wilson takes stunning studio portraits of animals.

Catalina Macaw Portrait by Brad Wilson

Catalina Macaw

Kangaroo Portrait by Brad Wilson


Capuchin Monkey Portrait by Brad Wilson

Capuchin Monkey

His best work is compiled in his new book, The Other World.

The Other World Book by Brad Wilson

Through his photography, he hopes to capture an “authentic moment” with these animals.

African Elephant Portrait by Brad Wilson

African Elephant

Rainbow Lorikeet by Brad Wilson

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rhino Pit Viper by Brad Wilson

Rhino Pit Viper

He allows each animal to move freely in the studio, creating what he calls “organized chaos.”

Jaguar by Brad Wilson


Eurasian Eagle Owl by Brad Wilson

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Grand Cayman Blue Iguana by Brad Wilson

Grand Cayman Blue Iguana

Within this chaos, he's able to capture portraits of these animals as they reveal their true selves.

Penguin by Brad Wilson


Golden Eagle by Brad Wilson

Golden Eagle

Brad Wilson: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Brad Wilson.

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Simple Portraits Reveal the Unique Personalities of the Animal Kingdom

Animal Portraits Poetically Illustrate the “Interconnected Diversity of Life”

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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