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David Chancellor September 26, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in South Africa.

Huntress with buck, Eastern Cape, South Africa 2010

David Chancellor (b. 1961, England) has exhibited in major galleries and museums, and published worldwide. Named Nikon photographer of the year three times, he received a World Press Photo in 2010 for ‘Elephant Story’ from the series ‘Hunters’. A study of his wife and son was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery London, and the following year he won the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2011 he was a nominee for the fifth Annual Photography Masters Cup, his work was shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Organization Award, and the Freedom to Create Prize. His series Hunters, in which he explores the relationship between man and animal, will be released as a monograph in 2012. He lives in South Africa and is represented by INSTITUTE.

About the Photograph:

“This image is from my work documenting the tourist trophy hunting industry in Sub Saharan Africa today. It explores the complex relationship that exists between man, and animal, the hunter and the hunted. Josie was 12 years old when I met her. She is from Birmingham, Alabama, USA. She is an experienced hunter, and rider, and had come with her mother and father, also experienced hunters, to South Africa to hunt her first African animal. Many hunters consider this journey as a rite of passage and bring their children to Africa to hunt. I spent two days with Josie and her family documenting their hunting. The opportunities to work whilst following a hunter are brief and intense. I’ve worked a great deal with Josie’s professional hunter and he’s comfortable with me being around. I will always explain who I am and what I’m doing and then usually not speak with the hunter again during the hunt.”

“In this case Josie had hunted her buck earlier in the day and was returning to camp, it had been overcast all day and until this point I’d been particularly uninspired by what I shot and very aware of the fragility and beauty of Josie, the passing of light, and with it opportunity. I’d previously worked in this location, also on horseback, and that had worked, but I felt Josie would be much stronger, there was a vulnerability and yet also a strength that I wanted to explore. As we arrived the sun dropped below the cloud cover and for approximately one minute I had perfect light. I don’t really think she was even aware of how she looked. The contrast between the peace and tranquility of the location, the ethereal beauty of Josie, and the dead buck was exactly what I wanted, it’s complex on so many levels and yet so simple. The horse is significant in as much as it allowed her to sit in an elevated position, grand and statuesque, evoking the iconography of the goddess Diana, often portrayed in mythology accompanied by a deer. Hunting is a very emotive subject. For this series to work I felt it needed to engage with the viewer, not alienate them. This is a perfect example of striking that balance. The scene is beautiful, it’s usually a long time before the viewer realizes they’re looking at predator and prey by which time they’re hooked and want to know more about a subject they may have otherwise turned away from.”