Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle
JUST WHEN you thought wildlife portfolios couldn't get any better,
along comes Untamed from award-winning wildlife
photographer, Steve Bloom.
But is another book on a subject that's already been done a hundred
times or more, really necessary? The answer, it would seem, is
yes, particularly where Bloom is concerned - and I'm not talking
For, essentially, his aim is to draw attention to the fragility
of Earth's ecosystems; to increase awareness of the dependency
all living creatures (man included) have upon one another, and
to demonstrate the similarity, in terms of experience and suffering,
between man and the creatures that surround him.
So, can pictures in a book do all that and thereby open our eyes
to the importance of saving the enviroment and, ultimately, of
safeguarding the future of life, as we know it, on Earth?
Hopefully, the answer is again yes. For above all, Bloom's stunning
images show just how beautiful these creatures are - even if you're
a chinstrap penguin chick, soiled by tobogganing on your belly
on muddy ground.
But not only that, they clearly confirm the depth of feeling
that exists between mother and young; the struggle for survival,
often in hostile enviroments and, supported by Bloom's own text,
a knowledge of health care that will amaze.
On a darker note, however, they demonstrate all too well that
man alone does not have a monopoly on gratuitous violence - illustrated
by a pride of young lions ganging up on a defenceless, juvenile
hippo; not as you would expect, for food, for they weren't hungry
and simply left him to die.
The image of the attack is there for all to see and Bloom, himself,
witnessed the entire incident.
The project was a huge undertaking and took ten years to complete.
Not surprisingly, the book itself is big, but justifiably so,
for images as good as these deserve to be well presented. And
that they most certainly are - frequently in double-page spreads
As for the quality of the images, all 200 of them, it's just
possible that their authenticity might be questioned in this age
of manipulative digital photography.
Bloom did, in fact, use a digital camera for the last 18 months
of the shoot and when questioned about criticism of the technique
in Photography Monthly magazine, explained:
'Most of what I do is controlling the tone and lightening and
darkening and drawing the eye into the picture' which is 'very
different from doing something like, say, taking an elephant in
the zoo and dropping it into a picture of the alps.'
And he makes no apology for concentrating 'too much' on popular
species, such as polar bears and elephants.
As he told Photography Monthly: "I approached the
project as an artist. I felt I could produce the best pictures
of things that moved me aesthetically, and that was what motivated
me to include the subjects that I have."
The result is this beautiful book with the added impetus of an
important message for mankind. Unheeded, images such as these
will be all that remain.