Painters such as John James Audubon, who went out into the world to document new species and environments through art, are inspiring to me. I’m interested in the colonial tradition of documenting species from a scientific standpoint, as well as the romantic notion of seeing exotic animals up close. I view my animal photographs as authentic portraits and take the same approach to shooting animals as I would a portrait of a person. Like the paintings of George Stubbs, my photographs capture the animal’s integrity with a measured, objective enthusiasm. I want these portraits of animals to breathe the same air of importance, identity, and gravitas as Francisco Goya’s paintings of Spanish royalty. I often think of my work more in terms of painting than photography, and of all these painting references, Sir Edwin Landseer is my biggest influence. I envision myself as a contemporary Landseer creating formal and respectful portraits of dogs as well as dramatic narrative scenes of more exotic creatures.
Aesthetically I try to engender a sense of amazement and wonder. Digital photography has allowed me to focus on composition and literally build the environment piece by piece around the subject. Although not every piece calls for it, being able to assemble environments and backgrounds from multiple photographs has added an element of workmanship to my photography. I’m able build a fantasy world with photographs that I could never have imagined taking in real life. As one author defined Romantic Realism, these photographs are my portrayal of the world, “as it could be and should be.” The Shepherd's Realm is my proof that the world is a humbling and wonderful place where polar bears exist (for now), white lions congregate near castles, and cats jump creeks in the middle of the night.