Photographer Isa Leshko Captured Emotional Portraits Of Rescue Animals Who Escaped Slaughterhouses Or Farms (15 Pics)

Published 5 years ago

Isa Leshko is an American photographer best known for her photographs of elderly animals. For the past decade, the photographer has been taking pictures of rescued farm animals and has even released a photography book titled Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries.

In an interview with Bored Panda, Isa said she sees her photos of animals as fine-art portraits. “In order for an image to appear in my book it couldn’t be simply a beautiful picture of a cow or a pig; it had to be a portrait of Bessie or Teresa,” said the photographer. “I selected images that revealed something unique about that animal or conveyed emotion. I wanted to viewers of these images to recognize that these animals are sentient beings who think and feel and who want to grow old in comfort, just like we do.”

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#1 Pumpkin, Morgan Arabian Horse, Age 28

Image source: Isa Leshko

#2 Buddy, Appaloosa Horse, Age 28

Image source: Isa Leshko

“I think most photography doesn’t fall neatly into one box or the other. There are documentary components to the work: in my book I include details about each animal’s life before they were rescued,” said Isa. “I also included lengthier biographical stories about a handful of animals. But I made creative choices in post-production that I would not have made if these images were documentary photographs. For example, if a background was distracting, I darkened it, or if an animal had straw running along her face in a manner that I think was distracting I removed it. I would never have done this if I viewed the work as a documentary project.” The photographer says she primarily identifies herself as an artist and only then as an activist.

#3 Kiri, Great Plains Wolf, Age 17

Image source: Isa Leshko

#4 Violet, Potbellied Pig, Age 12

Image source: Isa Leshko

Isa revealed that the farm animals have very different personalities from common house animals. She says that some of them are very outgoing and affectionate while others are shy and reserved.

“These animals are trauma survivors, and some are understandably wary of new people. For these animals, in particular, I spent a lot of time with them before even taking a single photo,” said the photographer. “I often spent days with a single animal to develop a rapport with him. I wanted the animals I photographed to be as relaxed as possible so I could depict their true personalities.”

#5 Melvin, Angora Goat, Age 11+

Image source: Isa Leshko

#6 Embden Goose, Age 28

Image source: Isa Leshko

“I wanted to be as invisible as possible so I could observe them behaving naturally and comfortably. If any animal seemed really uncomfortable with me, I would not photograph them,” said Isa. “Although animals cannot provide verbal consent to being photographed, they are excellent at communicating when they wish to be left alone.”

The photographer says that none of the photographs were posed. She did not use any artificial lighting and photographed the animals on their own terms as not to be disruptive. “I also photographed the animals at eye-level because I wanted viewers of my images to gaze directly into their eyes. This meant spending hours contorting my body in odd positions while lying in mud and animal scat,” added Isa.

#7 Babs, Donkey, Age 24

Image source: Isa Leshko

#8 Blue, Australian Kelpie, Age 19

Image source: Isa Leshko

“When reflecting upon the way farmed animals are treated, ask yourself whether you would feel comfortable if dogs or cats were treated the same way. (Note that I do recognize that in some cultures, dogs and cats are treated this way, and the Western revulsion to this treatment illustrates the irrational way in which we categorize some animals as pets and others as food and others as pests.)” said Isa.

#9 Bumper, Mixed Breed Dog, Age 17

Image source: Isa leshko

#10 Phyllis, Southdown Sheep, Age 13

Image source: Isa Leshko

“Nearly all of the farm animals I met for this project endured horrific abuse and neglect prior to their rescue. Yet it is a massive understatement to say that they are the lucky ones,” concluded the photographer. “Roughly fifty to seventy billion land animals are factory farmed globally each year. It is nothing short of a miracle to be in the presence of a farm animal who has managed to reach old age. Most of their kin die before they are six months old. By depicting the beauty and dignity of elderly farm animals, I invite reflection upon what is lost when these animals are not allowed to grow old.”

#11 Bobby, White Domestic Duck, Age 11

Image source: Isa Leshko

#12 Ash, Domestic White Turkey, Age 8

Image source: Isa Leshko

#13 Teresa, Yorkshire Pig, Age 13

Image source: Isa Leshko

#14 Mariclare, Draft Crossbreed, Age 27

Image source: Isa Leshko

#15 Marino, Bronze Turkey, Age 5

Image source: Isa Leshko

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Allowed to Grow Old, animal photography, elderly animals, farm animals, full-page, Isa Leshko, old animals, rescue animals
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