Connecting with nature

Tim Flach is an animal photographer with an interest in the way humans shape animals and shape their meaning, exploring the role of imagery in fostering an emotional connection. He brings to life the complexity of the animal kingdom, his work ranging widely across species, united by a distinctive stylisation reflecting an interest in how we better connect people to the natural world.

Flach is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University of the Arts London in 2013. He lives and works in London with his wife and son.

About his stint with the lens he says: "When I was very young, I had a lot of trouble with writing… I am quite dyslexic, and I liked doing visual stuff rather than word-driven things. And you could say that my inabilities drove those things I could do better. I loved nature, and I loved the sense of being out and connecting with nature from a very young age."

"I did not know that I would be a photographer, but I drew and painted in landscape from a very young age. I spent time doing things more in the country or on the coast. I did not know what lay ahead of me…I did not know if I could make a living or how I'd make a living but I knew that I wanted to play more to what I did naturally, which is painting and thereby leading me to photography."

Tim informs that his works were exhibited at an early age. "When I was 15, one of my pictures was shown in a gallery in London. And when I was a bit older my work was again exhibited, before I was 18. So, you could say I had shown paintings at an exhibition when I was very young and that taught me to observe and look perhaps."

He says that he did not study photography as a subject. "I did do a first degree in Communications, which is in general media. Then I did post-graduate in painting at St Martin's School of Art, it is a quite well-known school. I had the privilege of education but really, I think you have to be careful in life and not think that university is your education and in fact, life journey is an education. That you got to be curious and interested; and as we know only certainties change…you want to adapt to change then it is important to be curious and interested in the world around you."

About the first stint in animal photography, he says: "I did my very first roller film shoot when I was a student. I went out and I did a project set by the college related to animals. And that was interesting because it was my first roller film."

Taking photography as a profession he shares: "I started working as a professional photographer when I was 25. It probably took me 7-8 years to try and buy equipment. I had to pay the rent. I did not have a trust fund, and no one was supporting me to allow me the freedom to focus on the things which I wanted to do. Having said that I have always done personal work on the side."

"For a few years I was figuring out how to make a living. I was doing jobs at bars in the nights, helping clean places and taking pictures in the day. It was a slow journey…10 years on from that journey I was able to be more selective. And started to engineer projects of own with the animals. As you go down a journey in life you've learned new things…. When you are with animals you become a witness to all the different animal changes happening. As you become a witness you become a different person. You can't unsee and what you see…"

Sharing about working with animals he says: "You are telling stories and you have to pick the right candidate to tell a story. After all, there are so many animals… And I am only picking a few of those animals to illustrate a story on an idea."

Tim clicks pictures of endangered animals. So how does he select his subject? "I speak to really authoritative people… experts who spent their lives in conservation… I listen to many of those voices. And then I strategically decide what to show. What makes a good picture…and what tells the right stories."

He has published five books; Endangered (2017), Evolution (2013), More than Human, (2012), Dogs Gods (2010) and Equus (2008).

"I am working on a book on birds. You can say it is a celebration of the beauty of birds. I have also penned a children's book, which will be out soon," he signs off.

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