Feature Image: Tim Flach, Kanja Shaking, 2012
For this week’s five questions, we caught up with London based and renowned animal photographer Tim Flach and his assistant Radi Konstantinov to find out more about their trips around the world and the processes behind Tim’s iconic images.
Can you both tell us about your backgrounds in photography?
Tim: I trained initially in painting and sculpture at St. Martins. I was always visually led from a very young age. I initially started taking press photos, then gradually moved to my interest in animals.
Radi: I came from a fine art photography background- I studied in the States for my bachelor’s, then came to London to do my Masters in Photographic Studies. After getting my Masters, I did a bit of personal work, then decided to cross over into the commercial world.
How do you decide what animals to photograph?
Tim: I’m interested in the ideas and concepts of the animal, rather than determining whether if it’s a difficult animal to photograph. It’s more the idea that the subject pertains to, rather than simply chasing the animal down to shoot it.
Radi: We usually work with well-informed teams, typically through a casting process. We pick the animals based on how right they are for the shot, both in physical appearance, and, more importantly, behaviour.
You both often work abroad to photograph a specific animal. From your recent trip away, could you describe your typical shoot?
Tim: With the commercial work, we will often take equipment to set up a studio on location. When it comes to my own personal projects, again they are determined by the concepts and ideas that I’m working on. For example, I will soon be travelling abroad to make images for my new book project, Endangered. I may take an image of a rhino in the UK, thinking about the dangers of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. This in turn may take me to the rhino conservation stories in Africa.
Radi: Typically, Tim and I travel with his lighting kit, in this case to the States. We do like to use as many local vendors as possible wherever we are shooting, to lighten the load when we travel. We work with a team of producers, assistants, and the agency we’re working with on that particular job.
Animals can be pretty unpredictable to work with, can you describe any challenges you have encountered on your shoots?
Tim: The main challenges is when you try and chase a certain behavior that doesn’t compliment a studio situation. For example, often an animal might illicit a certain behavior, i.e, snarling at another dog, or sleeping. It’s difficult to recreate these seemingly organic situations in a studio setup, where the animal isn’t necessarily comfortable.
Radi: There are always challenges, and each animal has its own unique mannerisms or characteristics that we have to identify quickly, and find a way to get the desired behaviour for the shot.
What’s next for you both?
Tim: I am beginning work on my next book project, Endangered, focusing on charting the narrative of conservation through imagery.
Radi: We’re starting to work on Tim’s biggest project yet. It will focus on modern conservation efforts. We’re all pretty excited here.
Interviewer: Kayung Lai
Visit Tim Flach’s website
Image:Tim Flach photographing Erole the Neapolitan mastiff, 2010
Image: Tim Flach photographing Tux the standard poodle at the Levens Hall Topiary, 2010
Image: Tim Flach Penny Working the Bracken, 2010