Toronto Zoo – Portraits of the Wild
The Toronto Zoo, from 1887 until 1973, was originally situated in Riverdale on a site overlooking the Don Valley. During this time, it was a traditional 19th century zoo where animals were kept in cages. In 1966, the Metropolitan Toronto Zoological Society was formed with the objective of developing a new zoo for Toronto. Construction began in the fall of 1970 and the Toronto Zoo, then known as the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo, officially opened to the public on August 15, 1974. One of the aims of the Toronto Zoo is to show not just the animals, but the animals in their native environments.
Late in the summer of 2009, I was in the process of looking for a new photographic project when a colleague mentioned that he was going to the zoo on the weekend. This discussion led to the idea of developing a body of work focusing on animals of the zoo. I wanted to try something completely different in order to get me out my comfort zone. I usually photograph by myself, early in the morning when no people are around. As most people know, the zoo can be a chaotic environment; hundreds of people walking around, screaming children and other photographers jostling for images. I was definitely out of my normal element.
My intent was to go to the zoo over several weeks and months and photograph the animals and their environment. After my first visit, I reviewed these initial images and decided to isolate the animals from this environment by blackening the zoo background in post production work in Photoshop. The result, images that are similar portraiture photography; portraits of the wild.