People and their Animals – Yann Arthus Bertrand

One of the more interesting bodies of work by Yann Arthus Bertrand is his series of portraits of people and their animals. Although he is best known for his aerial photography, his people/animal portraits are more humanistic and more engaging.

Bertrand has become involved in environmental issues in many ways and with a number of initiatives that are too numerous to list here but can be seen on his web site. His studio’s output has become prodigious with many interesting and powerful projects. One of his latest works is a movie called HOME that is available for free viewing on You Tube.

Personally, I find these portraits of animals with their people one of his most interesting projects. This work highlight the long standing inter-dependency between people and nature – in this case nature as ‘the animal’. Be it the raising and care of cattle for food or dairy, the use of horses for labor or show, or the important bond that we have with our companion animals, the link between the human and the animal is deep and unbreakable.

These images show that, in very many ways, our lives are inextricably linked with a non-human ‘nature’ and that humanity will be all the poorer – and likely non-viable without it. To me, this is a much more powerful way of highlighting the value of conservation activities than the usual and no longer interesting narrative of the Human as interloper and destroyer of a romanticized, perfect and untouched “Nature”. HOME – the movie, repeats this same narrative and therefore, for me, is less powerful than these intimate portraits.

These images highlight the fact that “nature” is everywhere around us – part of our everyday lives both practically and culturally. Nature does not just exist in wilderness areas and national parks.

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