EXCLUSIVE

Photos question our relationship with animals

American photographer Robin Schwartz photographed her daughter in a series of interactions with different animals. The series, Schwartz says, is a way to showcase the individuality of animals and their importance in our lives.

"My daughter and I see animals as similar to ourselves, that each portrait of Amelia with an animal who is a specific individual and Amelia's relationship with that specific animal does not represent the breed or species, but is about a distinct individual and how they relate together," Schwartz told Fairfax Media.

<i>Amelia & the Animals</I>, by Robin Schwartz, is on show at Sydney's Black Eye Gallery as part of the Head On photo festival. <cite>Photo: Robin Schwartz </cite>
Amelia & the Animals, by Robin Schwartz, is on show at Sydney's Black Eye Gallery as part of the Head On photo festival. Photo: Robin Schwartz

The collection of images, which is now on show at Head On photo festival, includes an eclectic mix of animals: elephants, monkeys, even a tiger.

"I have little control over any animals," Schwartz says. "Much depends on how my daughter relates to each animal. Often the lighting and background are more challenging issues. We work as fast and as long as I can.

"If there is a message to my work it is not to judge, that just like people, animals are distinct individuals. The animals we photograph are not models but are well cared for companions – I am grateful to be trusted."

Schwartz's intention was to show how her 17-year old daughter Amelia was an equal partner in her relationship with the animal.

"We should respect one another and that each animal is an individual, that animals and people cannot be judged as a group," Schwartz says.

Amelia & the Animals is now on show at Black Eye Gallery in Sydney until May 14.