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Photographer Brings Taxidermied Animals Back to Life Through Photo Series ‘Trophies’

rhino horn portrait

Trophies is an eerily beautiful series of animal portraits by Chicago-based photographer C. Owen Lavoie. Lavoie, who is better known as C. Owen, depicts an intriguing perspective of exotic creatures that seem to be mysteriously emerging from nowhere. Out from pitch dark, the collection of images are unlike any of your typical animal portraits. Almost as if dictated upon, the animals gracefully appear under seemingly very controlled circumstances.

trophies series

portrait of hippo

You may be wondering how the photographer was able to exert so much control over these wild creatures. It makes you speculate on how the photographer was able to get so close and intimate with these otherwise wild beasts. The answer to those quandaries is actually a very simple one. The creatures in these hauntingly eerie shots are all taxidermied animals.

portrait of wild animal

C. Owen’s camera captures a transfixed expression of the creatures’ helplessness which creates a sort of paradox and irony of the animal, conveying so much emotion through the lens. C. owen says that she considers the series “a way of bringing the animals back to life for the public eye. It’s sort of like a third generation; first the animal was born, then hunted and handed over to a taxidermist so it can be displayed and finally in the end, modified by my lens.”

elephant trunk portrait

She delves further in her artist statement:

I capture their tragic story of innocence, anger, and fear through the expressions forced upon them by taxidermists. The animals emerge from a large black void that symbolizes death and forces us to imagine their missing bodies. They are again hunted, but this time only to be captured in a new existence. Within each photograph, the animals seem to speak to us; some are vengeful, threatening, angry, innocent, yet other are majestic and even calm. Currently, as I work on the Trophies series, I extended my studies of the natural world of insects. Natural Curiosities closely examines insects that are found in our parks and even our own homes.

portrait of exotic animal

See the brilliantly conceived and shot Trophies over on C. Owen’s website.

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Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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