Thanks to the wonderful Andrea Alessio sending me a link to the Photo Schools “Zoo” page, I’ve been spending some time looking at more zoo photography lately. It really is one of my favorite types of animal photography; it’s relatable by almost every viewer, it’s fascinating to see the kinds of animal enclosures in other countries, and as Lauren Grabelle said to me in an email recently, it’s a fun and accessible project for anyone to work on.

Something I find particularly interesting about zoo photography is the artist’s intentions. When Daniel Zakharov emailed me about his work, the first thing I noticed was the photos’ low saturation, which, when paired with the apparent despondence of the animals, creates a melancholy mood. However, Zakharov’s aim was to focus on the often bizarre day-to-day of the animals, not to paint zoos in a negative light. It must be recognized that zoos serve an important purpose, but they are in many ways a sad necessity.

From the artist’s statement: This series addresses the issue of animals in imprisonment. My intention was not to criticize zoos which nowadays have become ever more important in the conservation of species, but to focus on the strange and bizarre daily life of animals. Nowadays animals are born in captivity, between concrete, tiling, cement-slab buildings and artificial landscapes instead of the endless stretch of nature. In the meantime the zoo has become home for the animals and they have lost the memory of their ancestral breeding grounds.

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