Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bear Portraits by Jill Greenberg (R)

A visual feast for those who love bears, Jill Greenberg has captured the many aspects of bears.  The book is full of portraits of different kinds of bears, polar bears, Kodiaks, black bears, Russian and European Brown bears, and grizzlies.  There are pictures of cubs and pictures of mature bears.

Many would be tempted to only show the cute side of bears, but Greenberg is not afraid to shoot portraits that show the power and ferocity of these animals as well.  Moving from portrait to portrait, the reader is aware of how humans came to view bears as central to so many myths and legends.  One fact that I'm always surprised at is how small the bear's eyes are in relation to the rest of their features. 

Along with the portraits, there are quotes about bears by various famous people and authors, from Homer to Homer Simpson.  One of my favorites is "The alleged power to charm down insanity, or ferocity in beasts, is a power behind the eyes"--Ralph Waldo Emerson.  At the end of the portraits, there is a spread that tells about each bear used in the book; type of bear, height, weight, geographic region, movies the specific bear has been in and their name.   

The book would be a great gift for anyone who loves bears, or anyone who appreciates nature photography.  The portraits are not shot as most nature photography; instead the individual bears are shot with lighting that highlights their features and characteristics.  Those lucky enough to own this book will treasure it and display it proudly.

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