British photographer Tim Flach traveled the world for almost two years and captured endangered animals in close, intimate portraits. His project titled Endangered took him across the globe for almost two years while he photographed the animals that may soon disappear forever. You will have heard of some of them and seen their photos, but most of them are not so widely known. Still, all of them are beautiful and unique, and Tim captured their personalities and all their beauty in his images.
Tim shared some details about this series as well as the challenges that followed this ambitious project. It was an incredible journey for him as an artist, and he says it has changed him forever. I am sure you will enjoy his amazing images, even though they might even bring tears to your eyes.
Before taking the photos, Tim spent six months interviewing scientists and conservationists. He told DIYP he wanted to determine the exact direction that his project would take, but also retain the sense of wonderment of these animals.
Eventually, he started traveling the world and photographing these wonderful creatures. It took him 20 months, and the journey took him from cold polar seas to the hot African savannas. He got to observe many different animals, but only picked out 160 of them to display.
As you will see in the photos, he chose to depict the animals so we can form a connection with them. Most of the images show the subjects either very tight in or from far back. Some of the animals look like they’re staring at you, and I must admit I couldn’t stop staring back. This was precisely Tim’s goal: he wanted to connect people with the characters and personalities of these animals. He was aiming to create a strong connection between the viewers and the subjects. One thought guided him through the project: if he doesn’t manage to connect people with the personality of these animals, then they’re less likely to act.
After dedicating so much time to this project, you can imagine that it has affected the photographer as much as he wanted to affect the viewers. Tim confirms that being engaged in a project like this changes you. You are affected by everything you see and learn. It shapes you and changes you. He has learned a lot, and he has a lot of stories to share, both through his images but also through his words. So, I talked to Tim a bit more about the challenges he faced and the thoughts he had during the project.
Tim admits underwater photography was a bit of a challenge because it’s not his usual genre. Another major challenge was time. He had a limited period of time to photograph many of these animals. For example, a NatGeo photographer would get two months to photograph a Philippine eagle. Tim only had one week to get the shots.
Another challenge was synchronizing international flights and dates of travel. Tim needed to be in a specific place at a specific time in order not to miss something, as some phenomena only last for a couple of days. Because of this, he had to plan accordingly and arrive at the destination with precision timing. For example, the fireflies in Japan could have only been photographed over the course of a few days. The same goes for the bears in Hudson, Canada. There’s only a certain time of the year when the ice freezes over. If you arrive too early or too late, you won’t capture it.
Tim says that often the most endangered animals are also the largest ones. He shared a touching story about his encounter with a Northern white rhino. He photographed a Northern white rhino male, which is the only male of its kind left in the world. He is very old, and you can see him in the image below. Tim says he felt like this elderly animal was the reflection of the destiny of the entire species. And I find both this photo and the story truly heartbreaking.
If you’re interested in the technical aspect, I spoke to Tim a bit about the gear, too. He tells DIYP he usually uses a Hasselblad medium format camera. But for this project, he set it aside.
Tim used a Canon 5Ds, which has good low-light capabilities, and he usually paired it with long lenses. He would use a 200-400mm Canon lens with a 1.4x converter. For the underwater photos, he used the same camera with an 11-24mm lens and a Nauticam housing. He would sometimes also use a Broncolor flash.
During his incredible journey, Tim felt like he was a witness to the disappearance of many animals. He saw and photographed so many species over such a short time. As he tells us, conservationists mostly focus on one type of animal. Tim, however, saw and photographed many different species. In addition to the photos you can see online, he also published a book titled Endangered, featuring more than 180 of his photos. The book is completed and published, but Tim sees this project as only the beginning of a journey and hopes to develop it further.
Tim shares an important message regarding his book:
The book is titled “Endangered,” but to whom does that apply?
According to him, this title doesn’t only refer to the animals that are on the verge of extinction. Endangered refers to us alternately, and it’s the question of our humanity’s wellbeing.
I leave you now to enjoy Tim’s exceptional photos, meet these wonderful creatures and connect with them. I highly suggest you visit Tim’s website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see more of his work. You can see more photos of endangered animals, as well as more details, on this link.