Photographs copyright of Henry Horenstein, courtesy Pond Press
Henry Horenstein recently published book, Animalia, by Pond Press in 2008 might also be viewed as a “best of photographs” from three of his previously published books, “Creatures”, “Canine” and “Aquatics”.
These delicate and interesting photographs are brought together in a wonderfully duo-tone printed book, 90 pages, a cloth hardcover with a tipped in photograph. The photographs are classically displayed in the book design by Kiki Bauer. The books vertical size of 10 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ allows for plenty of breathing room around each photograph, with the few two page spreads loosing very little of the details in the gutter.
Editing of the photographs, which order and sequence, as well as image pairing or leaving a single image on a spread, is always intriguing to me. As a monograph, you could say that almost any sequencing might do, as there is no real beginning or end. Yet with this book, there is a nice flow to the photographs, and it seems effortless to keep turning the pages.
The collective series of photographs is a little ecliptic, with a combination of tight abstractions, close up details, and medium range environmental studies. Horenstein admits that creating this series in black & white, then adding in the warm sepia toning, was to further abstract this series and create additional seperation from the usual colorful reality of many animal photographs. It is a difficult genre to work in, as it is daunting to photograph a subject that can quickly slip into a cliche.
This series is not meant to be very discriptive, e.g. portoraits of animals in their habitats. They do provide a unique viewpoint and an attempt to provide something you might not have noticed before. A close up of the backend of a Rhino is probably not a viewpoint that you would seek out or get very often. Thus you might not be aware of the texture of the Rhino’s skin or how concealed the tail can become. Thus you might ask yourself the Darwin question, why did the animals tail evolve that particular way?
Or the study of the birds, when you able to veiw close up, the way the feathers are formed and lay, become beautiful abstraction patterns.
Granted, I have a real soft spot for the photographs of translucent Sea Nettles, which Horenstein photographs beautifully. Watching Nettles is much like watching a delicate contemporary ballet, that what ever interaction you see, is a delight. And Horenstein has seemed to capture that essence for me. In fact there is a wonderful quality to almost every photograph in the book.
Best regards, Douglas Stockdale