A beast fable is a didactic tale in which the characters are animals. The moral of the story might be different for each character; this rule is true for these photographs. The viewer draws from his own experience to perceive the story in the image. This framework might be a dream, a childhood memory, or an idea from the collective consciousness. Although it might be buried, we share the knowledge of a time when animals and people were connected. If these images can connect to that internal sense, they might stimulate a concern for the welfare of animals.
Two passions in my life inspire the photographs in my Menagerie series: animals and literature. I studied art, literature, and horseback riding at Sweet Briar College and earned a Masters degree in literature from the University of Georgia while also studying photography and horse science. I do not live on a farm or ride horses now, so instead I create my own menagerie of animal photographs. When I photograph animals I use the patience and understanding of animal behavior that I developed studying horseback riding and animal science. I want people to feel empathy for animals, and I attempt to draw the viewer into the image with a quality of mystery, what the French pictorial photographer Robert Demachy describes as “something all important, extremely difficult to express in words. If you can see it there is no use in trying to describe it. If you do not it is useless also, for you would not understand.” (On the Straight Print) Besides the feelings I have for the animals themselves, the inspirations for my photographs come from literature. For example, three romantic values are central to my vision: worship of nature, reliance on imagination rather than reason, and the idea of a realm that transcends the physical. John Keats voices in a poem what I consider an essential aspect of my photography: “Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard/Are sweeter.” (Ode on a Grecian Urn)