I’m Julia Wimmerlin, a commercial photographer born in Ukraine and currently based in Madrid, Spain. I love photography for its ability to move us emotionally without words across all genres; I like to say my specialization is versatility. AI have a soft spot for animals and always jump at the chance to photograph them, whether for work, a charity project, or for pleasure. So it should come as no surprise that the theme I chose when curating Editors’ Choice was “humanizing animals.”
Often we love what we understand and can relate to. I believe that one of the reasons we love animals is because they often remind us of ourselves. When observing animals, we see our own emotions, behaviors, and life situations being mirrored back at us in an exaggerated and sometimes comical way.
With a bit of technical knowledge and luck, it’s rather easy to get a good, clear shot when photographing animals, whether it’s a portrait or an action shot. They’re a popular subject. But when we scroll through the “Animal” section on 500px, we actually stop to look at very few of the shots. I believe that’s because we react to emotions or rare moments far more than technical perfection in photography.
Take the photo “BEETROOT” by Antje Wenner-Braun of a pensive gorilla. It is a stunning example of an emotional shot that makes us realize how similar animals (and gorillas in particular) are to humans. If you squint a bit, you could just as easily see a tired man, looking at people passing by whilst buried in his thoughts. A tight crop makes this resemblance even stronger, like something out of a Chiaroscuro Renaissance portrait.
Here’s another example of where the rodents don’t necessarily resemble people, and yet a rare moment of human-like behavior made me notice it among thousands of similar images. “Prairie dogs sharing” by Nick Fox looks like a couple of friends gossiping or school kids sharing secrets. The position of their arms around the mouth looks so human! A soft, diffused light and blurred background make them the sure focus of the shot.
“Shy rabbit” by Olivier Simon is a great capture of a situation many of us humans might have experienced—covering our nose and mouth out of shyness or to hide our blushing. The squinting eyes of the rabbit make this shot look even more human-like. Great composition with the rule of thirds rabbit placement and a shallow depth-of-field make it a touching and funny portrait.
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