Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals
Animals carry diverse meanings imposed upon them, often overshadowing their individuality. My "Sanctuary" project centers on farmed animals' inner lives, portraying them as unique beings with emotions and characteristics akin to humans. I visited and photographed animal residents at ten US farm sanctuaries dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and providing lifelong care for abused and neglected animals. I captured formal black and white portraits of each animal to emphasize tradition and focus on their unique expressions. The portraits are titled with the animal's name and sanctuary location to personalize the image. Each animal is photographed individually, reminding viewers that they represent fortunate survivors living in safe, loving environments, unlike the billions of their kind left in dire conditions due to the lack of protective laws.
To make these portraits, I spent time observing and waiting for the animals to approach me, creating a connection between the photographer and the subject. This perspective allows viewers to engage with each animal, transcending superficial depictions. I waited for subtle expressions, gazes, changes in body language, moods, or emotional exchanges before pressing the shutter. I witnessed first-hand just how wrong the stereotypes about farmed animals are. Pigs, for instance, rank high in intelligence, surpassing even beloved dogs and cats. I saw mother-child bonds and unlikely friendships, like Barbie the hen and Rambo the ram snuggling together at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Each portrait of a rescued farm animal serves as a plea to help those still suffering, inviting viewers to see farmed animals in a new light.
Charta Art Books published this project as "Sanctuary: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals," which includes handwritten stories about each animal by sanctuary founders and workers, along with essays by animal advocates. Proceeds from print and book sales have been donated to the featured sanctuaries and continues to support their work.