"I strive to capture the personality of the animal. Natural, not posed, not staged, not put on or manipulated, but honest!"
Lars Beusker was born in 1973. At the age of 15 he discovered his love for black and white photography. After graduating from high school, he first worked as a photo assistant for four years and then studied photography and design with Prof. Gottfried Jäger as well as Prof. Gerd Fleischmann.
He works as a fashion photographer and runs his own design bureau based in Stromberg/Westf. Since 2013, Beusker has been working on various freelance projects, always in black and white, in addition to his commissioned work. In 2017 he opened his first gallery in a Bauhaus pavilion made of wood and glass built for this purpose.
Fascinated by a first trip to Africa, it is not surprising that wildlife photography captivated him the most. The closeness to wild animals, the tranquility of untouched nature, and the people in these habitats continue to fascinate him – he travels to the wilderness as often as he can, capturing unique moments in black and white, as beautiful as portraits of wild animals have rarely been seen. In 2018, this work is becoming his new trademark after he hung up fashion photography.
"Why do you take all your pictures in black and white?"
“For me, there’s a very special reason for that: in our culture in the Western hemisphere, we’re brought up to believe that certain colors (should) trigger certain emotions.
Let’s imagine I’m supposed to make a portrait of you in color. Let’s take a flower meadow in May as a background. Save this picture in your mind. Then let’s take the same picture again on a rainy November day at the edge of a forest; the styling, the smile, the entire appearance is exactly the same. But when we hang the two pictures next to each other, unconsciously an aspect of happiness or sadness comes directly into play for every viewer from our culture. And I would like to cancel out this room for interpretation.
I want the viewer of my pictures to focus exclusively on the character of the animal, and that’s why the color stays out! I strive to capture the personality of the animal. Natural, not posed, not staged, not put on or manipulated, but honest!”
"How are these stunning images created?"
“Most of the time I am out in the wild outside the national parks and I always have very good guides with me. These guides drive me in the car and protect me. The door is unhooked, I lie in the car, so I can get very close to the animal even if I can’t get out. Under normal circumstances, no lion or elephant will attack a car just like that. So I am very well protected for the time being. With the big cats this is really the only way!
In my opinion, the best area in the world to photograph elephants is Amboseli – a small area in southeastern Kenya at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Outside the park in a dried lakebed, you may be lucky to see individual bulls or even larger families making their way to the other side of the broken lakebed in search of fresh grass.
Here I have enough time and space to get out of the car and lie flat on my stomach. If there was an emergency, I could always get right back into the car. But so I can position myself freely and photograph freely. It is always only seconds, maximum half minutes, which one has opportunity for a good picture!
"That means you never sit in the wilderness for hours waiting for the animals?"
That’s probably the biggest difference between my approach and that of many of my colleagues. On the one hand, I don’t have the patience to hide under a camouflage tent for weeks and wait to see what happens. On the other hand, I always try to have a clear idea of my image beforehand and to prepare and then implement this concept as much as possible. The most important thing is to keep a short distance to the animal. Sure, I can take a portrait of an elephant from fifty meters with a thousand-millimeter lens, like sports photographers use in the stadium, so that it fills the picture, but I’ll never get the animal’s attention that way. I want it to look at me. That’s the only way the viewer of the picture feels really close, and not just an observer. The longest lens I use is a 200-millimeter telephoto, which isn’t much, it’s more of a classic fashion telephoto lens. You try to prepare everything as well as possible: the place, the time, at what time of day and year I catch “my” animal the safest, then the light, the perspective, and so on. This is not a coincidence! Of course, you can not lure or manipulate the animal, you have to improvise… But waiting – does not work!