Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bear Portraits by Jill Greenberg

In Bear Portraits, Jill Greenberg presents a series photographs featuring a variety of bears in a outdoor studio setting. Some of the expressions she captures are almost human-like; others exhibit the raw and unforgiving power of these huge beasts. Her subjects range from the 40 pound European Brown Bear, 4-month-old Amos to the 1600 pound Grizzly named Koda. In between, there are Kodiaks, polar bears, brown bears and black bears. The text accompanying the images comes from various sources: ancient proverbs and well-known persons such as Shakespeare, Elvis Costello, and many more.

Beautiful book with marvellous subjects. The gorgeous images in this unique setting allows the viewer to see the bears up close and personal. Something we rarely, if ever, get to do. After glancing at the first couple of photos, I flipped to the introduction because at first I thought that these bears were stuffed. The author explains that they are indeed real and was surprised herself "that the bears didn't look alive or real in the pictures." All of them have, however, been raised by humans from birth and judging from the credits at the back of the book, each has some previous experience in front of the camera.

The one minor flaw in the book is in the images that span two pages. Some of the beautiful details are lost to the spine of the book. That's a shame. The only other thing is that it would have been nice to know which bear appears in which photograph. A label might have been too intrusive, but a listing in the back of the book might have accomplished this nicely.

If I had to pick a favourite, it would be "Silly Old Bear". The photograph is wonderful, but the reference (Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh) makes it special.

Recommended. This book would make a delightful coffee table book.

For more information about this book, please visit the Hachette Book Group website.

For more information about the author and her other photography projects, please visit Jill Greenberg's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Hachette Book Group for this book.

Bear Portraits by Jill Greenberg, Little, Brown and Company, ©2009. ISBN 9780316031882(Hardcover), approximately 60 photographs.

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