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Fine Art Portraits Capturing the Expressiveness of Zoo Animals by Wolf Ademeit

By Hanssie on May 27th 2015

If you’ve been around animals for any amount of time – whether domesticated or wild – you’ll see tendencies where it seems like animals experience emotions similar to humans. There are countless studies from scientists and behaviorists on animal emotions. Abandoned dogs can suffer from anxiety and depression, animal mothers experience grief when they lose their young, and primates will refuse food if they know that another primate will receive an electric shock if they partake. It’s all quite fascinating.



Thirty years ago, German photographer WolfAdemeit became passionate about photography when he began studying the craft of lithography. Though he owns an advertising agency and a photography studio,Ademeit  still refers to himself as a hobbyist. He photographs wildlife, but not as most wildlife photographs do, approaching animal photography as a documentary. Ademeit  prefers to photograph wildlife in the zoo, instead of out in the wild. Choosing to focus on capturing the expressions on animals, Ademeit approaches his work, titled ‘Animals,’ as one might approach a portrait session for humans – as an art form with the goal of capturing the expressiveness of animals in captivity.

All of Ademeit’s Animal’s portraits are in startling black and white. Because of the “artificial” setting of zoos, Ademeit has chosen to darken the areas in the image that distract, providing a stark contrast that makes the animals really stand out in the image. This focus allows the viewers to zero in on the animal – the expression in its eyes that speaks volumes; the small nuzzle of a baby and its mother, or the slight nudge of playfulness between siblings. The series encourages the viewer to reflect on the beauty of these animals and perhaps consider that some are disappearing at a rapid and tragic rate.

The Animals series took Ademeit 5 years to complete, and you can see the full series on his website here. Here are a few of my favorites:

Wolf-ademeit-1 Wolf-ademeit-2 Wolf-ademeit-3 Wolf-ademeit-4 Wolf-ademeit-5 Wolf-ademeit-6 Wolf-ademeit-10 Wolf-ademeit-9 Wolf-ademeit-8 Wolf-ademeit-7 Wolf-ademeit-12

CREDITS: Photographs by Wolf Ademeit are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tosh Cuellar

    incredible, great story and what stunning imagery

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  2. Hannes Nitzsche

    beautiful images! WELL DONE :)

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  3. Dave Haynie

    Just WOW!

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  4. Ben Perrin

    Amazing images. I love high contrast black and whites. Kudos to the photographer.

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  5. Raoni Franco

    “C´mon!! Give us the Von Wong stuff!! Fire, water, explosion, lasers, fairies!! Yeahhh!! He´s a genious………….”

    Absolutely awesome work. Thanks!!

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  6. Clare Havill

    Beautiful images, each one captures my attention.

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    • Thomas Horton

      I always judge a photograph on how long do I want to look at it. These seem to just capture and hold on to your attention.

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  7. Graham Curran

    For a zoo these are great shots.

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  8. Kim Farrelly


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  9. Matt Owen

    I like it. The dark background is very well done, gives the appearance these were shot against a black seamless.

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  10. Lissette Garcia

    These are stunning images.

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