Over the last decade American photographer, Randal Ford has become an internationally recognized photographer. His work has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, 20 Texas Monthly covers, an expansive coffee table book, and the cover of Communication Arts, the advertising industry's most prestigious publication. Among many other accolades, in 2015 & 2016 Ford was named one of the top 200 photographers worldwide by German-based magazine Lüerzers Archive.
From Shanghai to Berlin, Ford's work has been commissioned and collected across the globe. Few photographers have photographed as many animals in studio as Randal Ford. His prolific and ever growing body of animal portraits will be published in an art book by Rizzoli New York in 2018.
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 nature. As mankind evolved, so did our artwork. We began to not only depict, but personify animals. This personification connected us to animals on a deeper and more emotional level.
The Animal Portrait Collection is my perspective and portrayal of the animal kingdom. I want to personify our distant and closest species through photography. My objective is two fold. First to create a singular, focused portrait of each animal. Second, to satisfy our need for emotional connection with nature and other living species. Whether it’s beauty, power, or humor, I want to give animals the opportunity to tell their story and to connect with you.
RANDAL FORD DESCRIBING HIS PROCESS
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. This deconstructive approach to animal portraiture allows the viewer to experience the creature in a way otherwise not possible.
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.
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.
I am grateful to DJ Stout of Pentagram Design. 8 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 my career as an animal photographer.
Without the amazing work of Mother Nature, I wouldn't have such interesting and beautiful subjects to photograph. Despite having photographed over 100 animals in studio, I still marvel at the animal kingdom and the beauty Mother Nature has so wonderfully created.