This assignment was a gift. A whole-hearted thank you for sharing your photographs and stories of animal loves in your home, in your neighborhood, and in travel around the world. I got to be a voyeur, as photographers are, and to live vicariously through your photographs. I took notes of locations I long to travel to.
We are akin in our connection to animals. I enjoyed seeing each and every photograph. Your captions and stories were enlightening and appreciated. I am a collector of images, keeping images in the file cabinet of my head. I know that sounds weird, but that is why I so enjoyed each and every photograph, plus the added information submitted. I'm interested in all aspects of animals, so all genres of photography with animal content were considered, from portraiture, nature, documentary, and photojournalism to editorial, fine art, and vernacular, including the snapshot. For me, this assignment also was an education about behavior, habitat, environment, and culture.
Along with the objective responsibilities of being an editor, I also allowed myself to include my own personal point of view. Whenever an image peaked my curiosity, which was often, I read the caption for more information. The captions and stories gave me insight into the image after it had hooked me visually. I found your stories so fascinating, so much so that while writing comments under the photographs, I had to stop myself from wanting to have a conversation to ask further about the photographs and your experiences.
I aimed to edit with empathy to
animal subjects. It was an honor to view the photographs of loved household pets,
the loyal, faithful, and stoic members of the family. There were stories of illnesses
and there were the RIP notes. It was brave of you to submit the beloved photos
of older animals, no longer quite as cute or fluffy as they once were, but so
much more loved. I absolutely valued seeing and reading about those lifelong
relationships. I took these very personally.
I respect the dedication of the photographers
who documented heart-wrenching images of destitute, starving animals and
sometimes their people companions. There were also photos showing compromised
health, evidence of neglect, and animal slaughtering.
I admit crying over some of these
images and ones of the older animals. Your experience will forever be with me
from your photographs.
I felt a comradery with the plight of all mothers: mother dogs, mother monkeys, mother elephants, mother cats of all species, and mother birds of prey trying to feed their aggressive young. I thought about how incredibly hard all mothers work to keep their babies alive and safe, as well the commitment of people who care for their animals, be it for companionship or livelihood. I particularly loved seeing the varied relationships of mahouts in India and the variety of shepherds from around the world. Animal to animal relationships, both same species and interspecies, were wonderful and insightful.
Thank you also for the comic
relief, the cute and breathtakingly beautiful scenes with animals. I so
appreciated those happy photographs; I needed them. A shout out to the large
amount of submissions from photographers from Asia and the Middle East, and
particularly India. I took notes for my future travel plans to India. I so
appreciate your participation, and if you see me photographing in your hometown,
please say "hello."
What I truly enjoyed about this assignment is that everyone was committed to their subjects. This assignment was not a contest but a worldwide community sharing images of animals in every venue. I was interested in all of the photographs. Feedback is useful, but always take feedback and constructive criticism with a grain of salt, as each editor has their own individual point of view. If you truly love animals and if photographing animals gives you pleasure, then don't let any criticism impede your photography. Trust yourself and never stop photographing what you love.
Robin Schwartz's photographs are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others. Her photographs are included in over 50 books, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Time Lightbox, The New Yorker ...