Perhaps the name Tim Flach doesn’t ring a bell? No time to waste to get to know this internationally renowned British photographer/gentleman. His exceptional, stylized portraits of birds are now to be discover in Knokke, not uncoincidentally at Early Birds Art Gallery.
They look straight into the lens, or appear to be posing as trained models. Some of them in their crisp feather suit, others seemingly unaware of their dazzling, colorful beauty. They are the birds of animal photographer Tim Flach (°1958). They find themselves in good company. Flach has created magnificent photo collection (and books) about horses, dogs and threatened species.
Back to the birds, for whom the Early Birds have a soft spot. Tim Flach ascribes his newest subject to his childhood at the coast of Cornwall (the photographer lives and works in London today). He wants to capture the beauty and wonderment of birds, by portraying them in a series of (studio)portraits, abstract and mid-flight. Flach shows the animals against simple backgrounds, so that we may focus our attention on the minute details and morphological diversity.
The toughest task for the artist appeared to be the choice of the more than ten thousand species of birds, that roam the planet at present. By getting working in in the subject he made some surprising discoveries, such as a distant cousin of the duck that has a unicorn-like horn and a seabird with a handlebar mustache.
He acquainted himself with the rare and endangered shoebill, a stork with a magnificent gray, feather coat and a vaguely ironic stare. The animal spends most of its time remain unmovingly still, spying on a fish. When he spots one, then he grabs and squashes the fish with its heavy and razor sharp beak, that appears to be shaped like a shoe. If you wish to see a shoebill in real life, head on over to Pairi Daiza. There two great, gray chicks crawled out of the egg.
Flach was also intruiged by the Jacobin Kite Pigeon, with their ‘feather arrangements’, full feather colars, that seem to have been made by an exclusive designer. These precious animals that originally hail from India, are because of their most artistic look popular around the globe.
The animals and the compositions leave behind a harrowing impression, also because Flach pays great attention to the quality of the print and the finishing touches of the pictures. He uses Photoshop on most of his images, but limits himself to small changes in color tone and the detailing of interesting areas. The beautiful framing of the pictures is inclusive. Tim Flach’s works are available in two sizes. A small edition, (70 x 55 cm), of which exist 10 prints, and a large edition ( 121 x 97 cm), with a limited print amount of 5. Prices start at € 3700. At an auction at Christie’s one of Tim’s photographs went under the hammer for a whopping £50.000.
Beauty knows no limits
Francis Dedrie, manager of Early Birds Art Gallery: ‘In these post-Brexit times we need to go the extra mile to obtain our pieces of art. I had a lunch meeting with Tim in London at which I received a couple of his photographs to take back to our gallery. The luncheon was absolutely great, but the six hours spent at customs thereafter left quite the sour taste.’
Strike a (bird)pose
How does a photographer get these birds to sit so beautifully for the camera? Tim explains: ‘Sometimes specialized bird houses are built, so that the birds raised in captivity may not be aware of my presence. This encourages their natural behaviors and, more importantly, minimalizes their stress. Sometimes we use turning tables and rotating perches, or we build special ponds for the ducks, or we hang light high above the enclosure of the diving penguins.’
Tim Flach has received countless awards, among which an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society and an honorary doctorate at the UAL (Norwich University of the Arts). His pictures have appeared in National Geographic and the Sunday Times and are being exhibited in expositions and galleries around the world.
You are most welcome to come and discover this collection of magnificent photographs in Knokke!