April 16, 1958|
Tim Flach (b. 1958, London, United Kingdom) is a photographer best known for his highly conceptual portraits of animals. His images are a departure from traditional wildlife photography and he has been described as “a potent example of a commercially trained photographer who’s now reaching a global audience through the boom in fine art photography.” He is the author of the books Equus, Dogs Gods and More Than Human.
 Education and work
Tim Flach studied Communications Design at the North East London Polytechnic (1977–1980) and then Photography and Painted Structures at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (1982–1983). On graduation he briefly assisted Brian Worth, but soon began to attract commissions and was working independently from 1983. Today his clients include the Sunday Times, Cirque du Soleil, Sony, luxury brand Hermès and the Locarno International Film Festival. His images have twice been featured on Royal Mail stamps (2000) and "Working Dogs" (2008) as well as in campaigns for the Minnesota Zoo. His fine art prints are represented in London by the Osborne Samuel gallery.
 Animal photography
Flach's work has increasingly focused on animals, ranging widely across species but united by a distinctive style that is derived from his concerns with anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism. Among the subjects are monkeys, horses, bats, turkeys, parrots, Chinese pigs, dogs, frogs, fish and chameleons. “I shoot bats, embryos and flies on shit. I’m fascinated by how we interpret and humanize images of animals.” His images have been described as a system for thinking constructed and questioned by animal imagery: "Nobel Prize-winner author Elias Canetti penned an aphorism that could easily be applied to Flach – a person who 'thinks in animals as others think in concepts'."
Flach’s often abstract photographic style has been described as “the perfect antithesis to anthropomorphism”. "Flach employs the artistic technique of defamiliarization in many of his studio portraits, creating deliberately ambiguous close-ups, which present the subject at unusual angles in order to provoke questions from the viewer." “He may depict a horse against a monumental landscape, or create a close-up image of part of the animal so that it challenges our perspective and forces us to reconsider and question for ourselves why we react in a specific way to what we are seeing."
 The book, Equus
Tim Flach’s first book, Equus, is a comprehensive photographic study of equus: “the family of animals: that goes from Ass to Zebra, but is mostly Horses” and has 180 photographs of forty different horse breeds, including donkey and zebra breeds. Humans are intentionally absent from the images. "Historically equestrian art has essentially been a mechanism used to impose status upon patrons. What I'm doing is distinctive because it chooses not to show man with horse. By separating the horse from the man I am able to focus upon celebrating the horse itself."
The images in Equus fall into three sections. The first contains a range of close-up studio portraits. The second explores how location has played a part in shaping the horse and features different horse breeds, including the only remaining undomesticated horse in the world, the Przewalski's Horse from Mongolia, shown in their natural environment. “Flach has crossed continents in pursuit of equines in their natural environment. He has photographed Mustangs in the deserts of Utah, Haflinger’s high in the Austrian Alps, Arabians in expansive deserts, Icelandic horses against glacial backdrops and racing Thoroughbreds in the pristine confinement of their training environments.” The third examines the myriad ways humanity has shaped the horse, including photographs of cross-bred horses such as the Zonkey, a collection of images of horses wearing headgear ranging from armour to respiratory masks, and a series of photographs shot at Cambridge University showing the development of a horse from embryo to fetus.
 The book, Dogs Gods
Flach's second book, published in September 2010, is a study of dogs, created with the writer and creative director Lewis Blackwell. It focuses on the diversity of dog breeds, revealing how their forms and capabilities provide a mirror to human development and identity over millions of years. The extremes to which humans interact with dogs today are explored through sections including a focus on the subculture of creative grooming and coverage of the cloned descendants of 9/11 dog hero Trakr. A subset of images were chosen by Creative Review magazine as Best In Book in its 2010 Annual awards. Ahead of publication, The Economist's Intelligent Life magazine ran a 12-page feature, noting how the images were in part a visual exploration of research into sensation and perception, such as the work of neuroscientist Morton L. Kringelbach. The article said "Flach's bestiary, apparently so self-contained and stylised, often reveals unexpected layers of meaning."
 The book, More Than Human
Flach’s third book, More Than Human, published in October 2012, is a photographic exploration of animal species ranging from mammals to marine creatures to insects. By removing the animals’ surrounding environment from the images and shooting them in minimal studio-like settings, the images take on a portrait-like appearance. The Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine, which featured the book as its May/June 2012 cover story, described Flach’s subjects as "using principles of human portraiture … and a vocabulary of gestures and looks which seem to echo our own and play on our predispositions and sympathies".
Accompanying Flach’s aim to "illuminate the relationship between human and nonhuman animals – to make an inquiry into how these relationships occupy anthropocentric space…", essays by author and creative director Lewis Blackwell explore the idiosyncrasies of particular creatures as well as pertinent ethical, political, cultural and scientific issues.
Blackwell questions the importance of popular endangered species, such as the giant panda, compared to lesser known keystone species such as the Livingstone’s fruit bat: "What it lacks in cuteness it makes up for in its contribution to the wider ecosystem."
The hybridisation of animals, often a result of two species being housed together, is illustrated through images of hybrid species such as the zonkey (donkey crossed with a zebra) and the liger (lion crossed with a tiger). The role of animals in the advancement of science, particularly medicine, is evidenced in a photograph of spider silk created from the milk of goats genetically modified with the silk protein-encoding gene from the golden-silk orb weaver spider. Flach also explores the cultural symbolism of animals through his images of doves (symbolising peace) and an image of ravens (symbolising death) which was originally shot as an album cover for the band Art of Dying.
Flach has repeatedly been honoured by leading organisations and publications in the photography world, including: the Association of Photographers, American Photography, Photo District Annual, Communication Arts, Cannes Lions, Creative Review and Design & Art Direction. He has also won the International Photography Awards Professional Photographer of the Year, Fine Art.
- John Parker, "Extreme Dogs", The Economist, http://moreintelligentlife.com/gallery/dogs-0
- Geoff Harris, "Animal Photographer Tim Flach", Digital Camera, May 2008, page 111.
- Tim Flach, Equus, ISBN 0-8109-7142-9, produced and originated by PQ Blackwell; published in the US, UK and South Africa by Abrams, in Australia and New Zealand by Hachette Livre, in France by La Martiniere, in Germany by Knesebeck, in Italy by Contrasto; 2008.
- Tim Flach, Dogs Gods, ISBN 0-8109-9653-3, produced and originated by PQ Blackwell; published in the US and UK by Abrams, in Australia and New Zealand by Hachette Livre, in France by La Martiniere, in Germany by Knesebeck and in South Africa by Wild Dog; 2010.
- Tim Flach, More Than Human, produced and originated by PQ Blackwell; published in the US and UK by Abrams, ISBN 978-1-4197-0667-7 (UK), ISBN 978-1-4197-0552-6 (US), in Germany by Knesebeck, ISBN 978-3-86873-517-8 and in Australia and New Zealand by Hachette Livre, ISBN 978-0-73362-973-0; 2012.
- 'Time Well Spent', Sunday Times, http://myphoto.nationaltrust.org.uk/professionals
- 'Zumanity, The sensual side of Cirque du Soleil'. Zumanity. http://www.zumanity.com/en/credits.aspx. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Lürzer’s Archive, vol.3, 2003, pages 22–23
- 'Horse graces Hermes campaign' http://www.professionaljeweller.com/article-8092-horse-graces-hermes-campaign/
- 'Film Festival Locarno on the Behance Network'. Behance.net. http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Film-Festival-Locarno/46317. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Working Dogs, Royal Mail.
- Lürzer’s Archive, vol.5, 2008, pages 156,158
- Geoff Harris, "Animal Photographer Tim Flach", Digital Camera, May 2008, page 108.
- Cheryce Kramer, Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism, ISBN 0-231-13038-4, edited by Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman, Columbia University Press, New York, 2005.
- "Living Sculptures", Victor by Hasselblad, February 2008, page 53.
- David Corfield, "All Creatures Great and Small", Practical Photography, page 84.
- Lucy Monro, "Equus; A Journey", Equestrio Arabia Sports Magazine UAE, September–October 2006, page 96.
- Tim Flach, Equus, page 17.
- Lucy Monro, "Equus: A Journey", Equestrio Arabia, January/February 2006.
- Creative Review Annual, October 2010
- The Economist, Intelligent Life, June 2010 http://moreintelligentlife.com/gallery/dogs-0
- Simon Willis, "Body Language", The Economist, Intelligent Life, May/June 2012, http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/arts/simon-willis/body-language.
- Tim Flach, More Than Human, page 6.
- Lewis Blackwell, More Than Human, page 52.
- "AOP Awards - 20th Photographers Awards". Awards.the-aop.org. http://awards.the-aop.org/20th_Photographers_Awards. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "AOP Awards - AOP Photographers Awards". Awards.the-aop.org. 2009-04-07. http://awards.the-aop.org/AOP_Photographers_Awards. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- American Photography Annual 24, pages 73–74.
- "PDN Photo Annual 2007: Personal Work". Gallery.pdnevents.com. http://gallery.pdnevents.com/annual2007/personalwork.php. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Communication Arts Photography Annual 45, page 89.
- Daryl Lang (2007-06-21). "Saatchi NY Wins Big At Cannes Lions Festival". Pdnonline.com. http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/esearch/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003602160. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Creative Review, October 2007, page 17 and October 2010.
- D&AD Annual 2001, pages 164–165.
- "Lucie Photography Awards". Lucieawards.com. http://lucieawards.com/LuciePast/06/index.html. Retrieved 2009-11-20.