Street Prowl with Giacomo Brunelli
Giacomo Brunelli revisits his childhood love for animals by making quirky, unusual photographs of them on streets.
This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Better Photography.
- Description: To photograph the reactions of animals as a result of my direct interaction with them.
- Duration: From 2005 to 2012.
- Notes: Walking or driving and coming across an animal was the most enjoyable part of the project.
Growing up, I was surrounded by animals. I love animals. As a child, I would actually collect them, adding to our family pets much to the chagrin of my family. This series was a way of reconnecting with animals—just as I used to play with them as a child, aiming my camera at them is a way of playing with them as a grownup.
Animals is the first series I ever did, it was also the most spontaneous. After finishing a photography course, I was looking for a subject. I had shot other subjects like landscapes, but I had a certain mood in mind that needed to fit something in particular.
The series started when I first photographed a cat jumping off a tree in Italy. That is when I noticed that my camera is very noisy. When I press the button, the shutter makes a noise that the animals react to. This response is my way of photographing my interaction with them.
As for my approach, I have always been a fan of street photography. I find it to be a very versatile approach. With the series, I was able to combine the unpredictability of the animals with the charm of street photography.
The first part of the series was shot in Italy and the second part was shot in the UK. I would wake up at dawn and drive or walk until I found an animal. I would then compose the frame such that the background and light fit the mood I was in.
Sometimes I would come across a situation where an animal would scare me or people would chase me off their property. But then, this is something I strongly feel about… you have to be willing to take risks to make good photographs.
Considering how different these images are from the conventional animal photographs, I was surprised at how well the series was received in different countries. I think this is because the love for animals is universal.
I used a Miranda Sensomat with a 50mm lens and Kodak Tri-X 400 film. For the prints I used standard chemicals, paper and a very old enlarger.
On Photographing Animals Differently
- Trust Your Equipment: Animals are fickle and unpredictable, so if you plan to use a different aesthetic, you need to know your technicalities perfectly before you begin.
- Distance Matters: Most people photograph animals from afar, with telephoto lenses. But work like this is a delicate mix of intimacy and confrontation, and needs you to get physically closer.
- Love Comes First: No matter how you shoot animals, you have to love them. You need to be comfortable around them, know their habits and characteristics.
—As told to Natasha Desai
To view more images from Giacomo’s work, you can visit his website www.giacomobrunelli.com