Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

The photography of Steve Bloom

Posted by lisagbrown on February 19, 2008

UntamedcoverUntamed, the new coffee table book by Steve Bloom, is a photographic menagerie of five continents-worth of animals. Bloom spent ten years traveling throughout the world to amass a collection of photos that are as beautiful as they are insightful.

Often animal imagery suffers from being unilateral in its meaning — that is, the animal is conceptually flattened to depict a less-than-dynamic being. But the wonderful thing about Bloom’s work is how he seamlessly traverses a range of ideas in his vast portfolio. Each photo tells a story about an animal and it also reveals the complicated and diverse ways that Bloom sees animals.

In some pictures, the animals fill the frame with such abundance that they seem to become the landscape itself. They are not complacent residents of a habitat; instead, they ARE the habitat:


In other photos, Bloom reveals the interlocking relationship between animals and landscape, and the elemental essence of a single species. In these photos the animals are integrated but unique from their habitat. They are OF the landscape:


In still other photos, Bloom manages to create portraiture that captures the unique individuality of his subjects. He shoots with a sensitivity and tenderness that is common in pet portraiture, but extraordinarily rare in wildlife photography:


Bloom is at his best when he marries these three perspectives. In those unique moments he is able to communicate the vastness of landscape, the elemental essence of species and the uniqueness of individuality — all in a single photo. I imagine that achieving the integration of these concepts in a single photo is something a photographer waits a lifetime for:


As Bloom himself explains, “There remains the ongoing challenge to portray life in all its manifestations, and create images that reveal the very essence of what it is to be a living being.” Check out Bloom’s amazing work at his website,

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One Response to “The photography of Steve Bloom”

  1. lisagbrown said

    Commentary by “tawny grammar”:

    “This puts so succinctly what I find lacking in too much fiction: I’m looking for stories that treat animals not only as screens on which to project human desires, but also recognize animals as active, dynamic — and willful — beings in their own right. Not to ignore the symbolic importance of animals to human culture, but to acknowledge that we are always viewing animals through multiple lenses, and that animals are viewing us, too. It’s one thing I look for and seldom find as a reader, and reach for (and too seldom catch) as a writer.”

    This and other notes on nature and culture on the web can be found at

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