To be a great photographer, you have to be close to your subject. For Randal Ford, that might mean anything from getting cozy with chimpanzee to palling around with a penguin. After making a name for himself in commercial photography, Randal began a passion project by the name of Kingdom by Randal Ford, photographing over 100 animals and exploring man's emotional connection with our most distant and closest species.
The portraits make a sublime statement in any room and give an intimate glimpse into the miraculous details of different fauna—from the ruffle of a bird's feathers to the glint in a leopard's eye. We recently asked Randal to fill us in on the background behind his exploration of all creatures, great and small.
Simply Framed: Tell us about the idea behind creating a collection of animal portraits.
Randal Ford: My objective is two-fold. First, to create a singular, focused portrait of each animal. Second, to satisfy our need for emotional connection with nature and other living species.
SF: Tell us about your process. How do you capture these wild animals?
RF: It starts with photographing the animal in the studio and crafting lighting that is simple, but executed exceptionally well. The backgrounds in my portraits are neutral colors that complement the animal without being distracting. This deconstructive approach to animal portraiture allows the viewer to experience the creature in a way that is otherwise not possible.
During the shooting process, it's not uncommon that an animal gives you just a glimpse of its personality. My need to stay on point and focused is imperative in capturing that split second when an animal reveals itself. And of course, I always have to keep in mind that these are animals. We love them, we respect them, but we cannot control them. It's up to them to decide the story being told.
SF: Any crazy animal moments in the studio?
RF: Photographing big cats is an experience unlike photographing any other animal. Their combination of power and grace is tangible—and can even be frightening. They command respect. One wrong move and things could escalate quickly.
Dexter, a one-year-old mountain lion had a low, rumbling growl the entire time we had him in studio. The trainers were feeding him raw chicken and he was using his hands to grab it off the feed stick. Dexter swiped at the chicken and it landed at my feet. He jumped off the riser and came down to eat the chicken. The fear inside me was literally like a rushing wave drowning me. But I knew damn well not to move. I took a huge deep breath as the trainer gently walked Dexter back up on the riser, luring him with more chicken.
Love Randal's work as much as we do? Order from Kingdom before tomorrow December 9th for guaranteed shipping before the holidays! Missed the deadline? No prob! These furry and feathered friends will be around all year long.