National Geographic-style exotic animals poised in their natural habitat these are not. Carli Davidson aims her lens at domesticated pets and zoo animals, capturing personalities rather than wild, untamed animal behavior. Based in Portland, Oregon, she’s internationally recognized for her work as a fine art pet photographer with her often humorous and consistently honest portraits.
Davidson’s portfolio is every animal-lover’s dream with both editorial and studio series ranging from the colorful “Dogs and Cats” collection to charming photos from the “Oregon Zoo.” These include a triumphant pic of Conrad the polar bear licking a cream cheese cake off a window on his 25th birthday and a recently-hatched tiny turtle posed on top of a hundred dollar bill for scale.
Another “aw”-inducing series, the “Handicapped Pet project” proves with levity that “your pet is beautiful no matter how many limbs it has”—like Ramen Noodle, an adorable pup who lost both his arms in two separate accidents. In his case, Davidson demonstrates Ramen Noodle’s resilience with images of him standing tall on his remaining hind legs, as well as carefree action shots of him running around in his wheelchair. (Also on Cool Hunting: I Heart Tripods)
Apart from capturing humorous quirks in the off-moments when pets’ eyes go cross or tongues flop lazily from snouts, Davidson depicts their owners in “People & Pets.” Through artful posing, Davidson’s photographs—like a yawning puppy cupped in gentle, tattooed hands and a white-feathered parrot perched so it’s profile blends with its owner’s bright blue eyes —reflect the character of both individuals, as well as the bond between them.
While Davidson’s work is generally lighthearted, she shows the dark side of animal life too. Her graphic series, “Bison Butchering,” follows the process of meat trading from pasture to slaughterhouse. She also sheds light on veterinary work with her visual photos of “Animal Surgery.” This includes the philanthropic work performed by the Oregon Zoo veterinarians who invite blind students for a hands-on experience of their operating rooms.
Visit Davidson’s website to peruse her various photographic studies—including the irresistible series “Shake,” which features stills of various wide-eyed pooches shaking it out with flappy cheeks, windblown tufts of fur and airborne wads of drool. Contact her directly to snag exclusive prints.
All photography by Carli Davidson