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Joachim Schmeisser
Golden Giant III, animal, wildlife, color photography, elephant

2013

About the Item

Edition 5 More sizes on request. It was in the evening, not far from the reintegration unit in Tsavo National Park. I had just taken my last pictures of the day and the orphans were already on the way back to their stables with their keepers. And sometimes you are so immersed in your work that you forget what is going on around you. At any rate, the orphanage is often visited by wild elephants and former orphans who have been released. As I was standing near an artificial waterhole, one of these former orphans suddenly appeared behind me. There was this incredible evening light. Of course I started photographing him, moving closer and closer. When I was about two meters away from him, it dawned on me that I was all alone there with a huge, nearly full grown, in the meantime, wild elephant. He slowly came toward me and got so close that there wasn’t even space for the camera between us. He was perfectly peaceful, looked straight at me and let out those very low sounds that I had often heard but never that close. I will never forget that combination of unimaginable power and sensitivity. That elephant is called Challah - of the Golden Giants Trilogy. Born in Germany in 1958, Joachim Schmeisser is best known for his major photographic series he has done in East Africa – his iconic portraiture of Elephants. He started this project in 2009 and in 2012, Joachim Schmeisser won the prestigious Hasselblad Award for this work. In 2017 his book »Elephants in Heaven« was launched by the German Publisher TeNeues and sold out within 4 months. » I feel like this work—for me—is an unprecedented example of the perfect balance between creating an icon, and working with an icon.« writes Art Editor Fridey Mickel of the TAZ Berlin about his work. Matthias Harder, Chief curator of the Helmut Newton Foundation Berlin speaks in his foreword about him as a man of conviction with an ecological, visual approach: »Schmeisser’s insightful images call us to action, to get involved in nature and species conservation so that the last stretches of wilderness that remain in our world will continue to exist for a long time to come—especially this incomparable, African ecosystem with its veritable mythical giants of nature. Many photographers have had and continue to have enormous empathy for their fellow human beings, as can be seen in their portraits and street photos. But here we are dealing with a man who has a special place in his heart for animals, for maltreated creatures, and the need to protect them—his photo series simultaneously pays homage to the beauty of nature. Like in street photography, Joachim Schmeisser has to react spontaneously to the situations that unfold in front of his camera. It is not possible to stage this kind of animal photography. We can therefore note the enormous authenticity in Schmeisser’s elephant photos that has, plain and simple, been lost in many other areas of photography.« – Photography, Animal, Africa, Wildlife, Nature, Large Format, Tusks, Elephant, Portrait, Close-Up, iconic, black and white photography
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