Henry Horenstein – Animalia


Photographer: Henry Horenstein copyright 2008 courtesy Pond Press

Henry Horenstein recently published book Animalia from Pond Press  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 over 90 pages with a cloth hardcover and 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 as to image sequence and 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 might not be a 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 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 and then adding in the warm sepia toning was to create a further abstraction of this series. I believe that animal portraits 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 descriptive, e.g. portraits of animals in their habitats. He does provide a unique viewpoint and an attempt to provide something you might not have noticed before. A close up of the back-end of a Rhino is probably not a viewpoint that you would seek out or get very often. One might not be aware of the texture of the Rhino’s skin or how concealed the tail can become. This photograph asks the Darwin question as why did the animals tail evolve that particular way?

Like wise his study of the birds when we able to view close up the way the feathers are formed and lay which 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 occurs is a visual delight. Horenstein has seemed to capture that essence for me.  In fact I find a wonderful quality to almost every photograph in this book.

Best regards, Douglas Stockdale








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