Nick Brandt – The Day May Break. Chapter Two

Review by Gerhard Clausing

Environmental destruction and climate change certainly constitute a universal problem. Resources are limited, and both humans and other creatures have their needs to fulfill. Nick Brandt is an artist with a big heart and an even bigger conscience, and in his work, he calls attention to these disturbing global trends.

While Brandt’s previous work was focused on Africa for more than two decades, this latest photobook was created at Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary in Bolivia. With the help of rescue animals and local people, all of whom had suffered losses, and with the clever application of technical wizardry, such as fog machines and ‘invisible’ glass partitions or an electrified wire where necessary, he has created an impressive album of unforgettable portraits of the impacted inhabitants of those particular realms.

The monochrome images are shown on large pages, which creates a certain immediacy and urgency. Our overall impression is that the mood is somber. Most of them do not directly look at us. The expressions of the humans are serious and determined, while the animals are also proud and resigned to an existence of safety forced upon them by circumstance. The slight haze in the images calls attention to the tentativeness of our existence and the fragility of our planet. One also senses a determination driven by the need to survive. From the smaller animals, such as monkeys, sloths, and capybaras, to the larger ones – bears, larger cats, and tapirs, we get a sense of determination geared at survival. Sometimes we see shadows in the background: reminders that our existence on earth is but a fleeting phenomenon.

The project is further enhanced by a number of texts and essays. Nick Brandt’s description of the goals of the project start us out on this important emotional journey. He also warns us to elect officials who dedicate themselves to environmental improvements. “Learning again how to live” is an essay by Daniel Sherrell that orients us to the plight of these people and animals. The stories of all the survivors are detailed and gripping, presented in a special section and indexed to the large images. Finally, for the really curious members of the viewing/reading audience, there is a very entertaining “making of” section that provides many details about how these single-exposure photographs were made, including a few color photographs, as well as a description and appeal on behalf of the Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary.

This photobook serves as an elegant yet urgent reminder to treat our planet as well as possible in order to minimize environmental harm and to support organizations that work toward everyone’s survival. Highly recommended.


The PhotoBook Journal previously featured the following books by Nick Brandt: The Day May Break, This Empty World, On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, On This Earth.


Gerhard Clausing, PBJ Associate Editor, is an author, photographer, and synthographer from Southern California.


Nick Brandt – The Day May Break. Chapter Two

Photographer:  Nick Brandt (born in London, England; lives in Southern California, USA)

Publisher:   Hatje Cantz Verlag, Berlin, Germany; © 2023

Essays and Texts:  Nick Brandt; Daniel Sherrell

Language:  English

Hardback, sewn, with illustrated dust jacket; 144 pages, paginated, with 60 images; 12.25 x 13 inches (31 x 33 cm); printed and bound in Germany; ISBN 978-3-7757-5429-3

Editor:  Nadine Barth

Designer:  Julia Wagner


Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are under copyright by the authors and publishers.

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