Photographer Spends Years Capturing Poignant Portraits of Animals on the Brink of Extinction

Most Endangered Animals by Tim Flach

Crowned Sifaka Lemur, © Tim Flach
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We know that the fate of endangered species is a global issue, but it remains an abstract concept to many of us. We aren’t confronted with the faces of these creatures on a daily basis; but thanks to the work of photographer Tim Flach, these mammals, reptiles, fish, and birds are shown in striking portraits that make it impossible for us to turn away. His poignant series (and book), aptly titled Endangered, features these creatures locking eyes with us—it’s much different than the typical pictures of animals where they are captured within their grandiose natural environment. Flach instead pits them against a stark backdrop and completely divorces them from their habitat.

The decision to visually remove some of the endangered creatures from their environment was deliberate. “The romanticizing, free, wild images [of animals] weren't necessarily getting people to take action,” Flach told NPR.“I wanted to think about what kind of images people engage in and how you tell a story to get people to connect to [the animal].” The “mild anthropomorphizing” of animals is shown in research to make us feel a greater connection because the creatures have personalities we can relate to. “Images often done in a style and representation that was more like humans was more likely to make us care more.”

Although the up close endangered animal photos are striking, some of Flach’s images do pull away from the subject and examine the creatures within their environments. “It's important for a book that has a lot of portraits to also [have] a sense of the habitat,” he explained. The species depend on us to help keep their homes safe; it’s not just for their well-being, but for ours, too. “We've got certain animals that turn the soil or forests that make fresh water. Our future depends on them. It's pretty basic really.”

It took two years to document all of these animals. In 2017, Endangered was published by Abrams and is now available on Amazon.

Photographer Tim Flach spent two years documenting fragile species on the brink of extinction.

Most Endangered Animals by Tim Flach

Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey, © Tim Flach

The resulting endangered animal photos give a human-like existence to these creatures.

Endangered Animal Photos by Tim Flach

Ring-Tailed Lemurs, © Tim Flach

Flasch hopes it will encourage us to take action to help ensure that these species thrive.

Endangered Animal Photos by Tim Flach

Saiga, © Tim Flach

Endangered Animal Photos by Tim Flach

Shoebill Crane, © Tim Flach

Most Endangered Animals by Tim Flach

Beluga Sturgeon, © Tim Flach

Most Endangered Animals by Tim Flach

Bengal Tiger, © Tim Flach

Endangered Animal Photos by Tim Flach

Polar Bear, © Tim Flach

Endangered Animal Photos by Tim Flach

Yunan Snub-Nosed Monkey, © Tim Flach

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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