Facing the Wild
by Liz Ream
Morten Koldby takes portraiture to a new level. The challenge of getting up close and personal to the subject increases severely when that subject is 750 pounds, with the natural instinct and desire to eat you for dinner. This didn’t stop Morten from approaching these exotic faces of the wild and creating his striking series of animal portraits.
Some of these photos were shot in zoos, while others took place in wildlife parks or reserves. Ideally, Morten would maneuver the animals in front of a white seamless. If outdoors, he looked for a day with lightly overcast skies, and if indoors, used a soft lighting setup.
One of the biggest challenges for Morten was posing the animals:
“Most of the solution is patience, waiting for them to settle down and then trying to get their attention. Most of these animals are completely untrained, so I rely on my ability to stay interesting to them, sometimes with the help of keepers who have so far been wonderful to work with in every instance.”
Surprisingly, Morton found that the animals he thought would be the hardest to work with, such as the large cats, were actually the easier subjects. On the other hand, the animals he thought would be calm and easy such as the giraffe turned out to intimidate him the most.
Morten let us in on some of his tips for animal portraiture:
“I try to shoot some of the animals from a higher or lower point than their eye level, to make some appear dominating and majestic and others more subdued and intimate. The more intelligent animals will often be easier to get a good shot of fast, since they seem to be more interested and engaged in what goes on around them. One shot of a big Siberian tiger was accomplished by having the help of a keeper that it for some reason did not like. So I was able to pose it perfectly by having him move around outside the fence to position it as close as possible, facing me. I think in this case, a strong contact with the subject is really key, as it is all about the look in their eyes.”