Over the last decade, Randal Ford has become an internationally recognized artist. His works have appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, 20 different Texas Monthly covers, and the cover of Communication Arts, the advertising industry’s most prestigious publication. To name a few, Ford has been commissioned to create photographs for brands such as Anheuser Busch, Comcast, Frito Lay, LL Bean, Pepsi, Pfizer, Verizon, & Yeti.
Among other accolades, in 2015, 2016, 2017 Ford was named one of the top 200 photographers worldwide by German-based magazine Lüerzers Archive. In 2017 his animal photographs were awarded 1st place and best of show in the fine art category in the prestigious International Photo Awards competition.
Few photographers in the world have photographed as many animals in studio as Ford.
The Animal Portrait Collection® will be released in an art book published by Rizzoli New York in the Fall of 2018. The book is available for preorder here.
Over 40,000 years ago, we began to depict animals in cave drawings. Throughout history, mankind’s consistent portrayal of animals in art is a testament to the importance of our connection with the animal kingdom.
As mankind evolved, so did our artwork. We began to not only depict, but personify animals. We began to see our human emotions in animals. This anthropomorphism or personification connected us to animals on a deeper and more emotional level.
This collection is my perspective and portrayal of the animal kingdom. As a portrait photographer, my intention is for these animal portraits to speak to you. What they say depends on the conscious and subconscious feelings you embody.
By photographing each subject in studio on a neutral background, I am creating a portrait that is focused on the animal only. This deconstructive approach to portraiture allows you to experience the creature in a way otherwise not possible. Through this language of simplistic portraiture, these photographs are aimed to elicit an emotion in you.
Whether it’s beauty, power, or humor, I want to give animals the opportunity to tell their story and to connect with you.
A portrait is a collaboration between subject and artist. These are no different. I am working with the animal itself and typically the animals owner or trainer. Without collaboration from subjects on both sides of the camera, it would be impossible to create these unique portraits.
My process starts with photographing the animal in studio and crafting lighting that is simple but executed exceptionally well. The backgrounds in my portraits are a neutral color that compliments the animal without being distracting.
During the shooting process, its not uncommon that an animal gives you just a glimpse of it’s personality. My need to stay on point and focused is imperative in capturing that split second when an animal reveals itself.
To finish the process, I apply a simple treatment of dodging and burning to the image in post production. These subtle adjustments to color and contrast allow me to further push the image to a place that is tactile while at the same time soft and aesthetically pleasing.
And of course, these are animals. We love them, we respect them, but we cannot control them. Its up to them to decide the story being told. And at the end of the day, if the photo gods shine down upon us, we get to see just a brief glimpse into their soul.
Index of Stories
Every animal I’ve photographed has a story behind the shoot. Some animals are challenging, some are entertaining. In the words of Dr. Seuss, some have ‘scared me right out of my pants.’ The stories on each creature are a glimpse behind the scenes of my experience working with them. I hope they give you an entertaining and anthropomorphic look at the uniqueness behind each portrait and a taste of each animals individual personality.
I couldn’t produce the images I’m able to capture without the collaboration of the dedicated animal lovers that I have had the privilege of working with. I also couldn’t do it without the hard working photo assistants and producers I work with throughout this process. The final step in the creation of these photograph is retouching and am grateful to Amber Politi for all of her help digitally cleaning up the backgrounds and animals so they look their absolute best.
I am grateful to DJ Stout of Pentagram Design. 10 Years ago, the renowned designer, first hired me to photograph a series of dairy cow portraits. That cold and rainy day inside a barn in the middle of Texas was the inception of this animal portrait collection. Thank you to Carla Delgado of Pentagram design who has spent countless hours designing my book. And thank you to the publishing team at Rizzoli New York who saw the uniqueness and potential of my animal portrait collection.
Thank you to my family. Their encouragement along the way has been pivotal in my journey.
Most importantly, without the amazing work of Divine Mother Nature, I wouldn't have such interesting and beautiful subjects to connect with. Despite having photographed over 100 animals up close and in person, I still marvel at the beauty of God’s animal kingdom.