As a people-animal photographer I am often confronted with animal welfare. Since I’ve been working with animals, I’ve been dealing with this subject and I’m getting more and more sensitive with the time when the protection of animals is concerned.
„For me, the well-being of the animal comes first.“
All animal owners I work with have been selected carefully. I never offer photoshoots or workshops without making sure that the animals are kept under appropriate conditions.
Every animal is different and has its own limits. Recognising these is the first responsibility of the animal owner. They are familiar with their animal and know what is reasonable for it. This is why a deep mutual trust with the animal owner is especially important for me.
Not every animal qualifies for photoshoots with strangers. The animals I hire for my photoshoots are used to the contact with people. Not all animals allow the vicinity to humans, but those who do, do it voluntarily.
„Recognising and respecting the limits of the animal is indispensable.“
Prior to every photoshoot, I inform the customer about the correct way of treating the animal during the photoshoot. I always emphasise that we are working with animals and that there is no guarantee for all posings. In most photoshoots, several animals are involved, except for reindeers and foxes. If we shoot with just one animal, it can happen that we have to interrupt the shoot after 30 minutes, as soon as the animal shows any signs of stress.
The wild animals I work with are hand-reared. They mainly come from animal shelters, where they were placed because their lives were endangered or to save their species. These animals are accustomed to people and are mostly tame. Nevertheless they are wild animals. That’s why we have to respect certain rules, so that the interaction between person and animal remains absolutely safe.
I deliberately take pictures of people with wild animals, e.g. in South Africa, because I want to raise public awareness of sad issues, such as hunting and selling lions to tourists who can then shoot and kill them for fun. With my photos I want to show that animals are not our enemies and that they should matter to us! I want to show that we can live harmoniously and peacefully together. The contact with animals is balm for the soul. But the animals need us humans, too! A part of my revenue is donated to animal welfare, such as the animal shelter, from which I got my cats or to animals that are seriously ill, e.g. Olcan (the little wolfhound puppy), who we could give two months more life, thanks to generous donations.
In my work, I set a high value on transparency. I never conceal the origin of the animals. In the same way, I show how lovingly and respectfully I and the animal owners treat the animals.