“The shut down of the Moscow Zoo gave me the opportunity for a serious study. There were no distractions; I could fully concentrate and observe the animals’ behaviour. I tried to capture the moments when an animal looked like a human; I wanted to capture its emotions, its character. The work had my attention and my thoughts so captivated, that there were times when I lost the feeling for where I had been spending hours.
I really love animals, I’m fascinated by their aesthetics, beauty, perfection and individuality. Animals have a therapeutic affect on me; when I’m close to them my mind is at peace. During the photo shoot I had a very interesting relationship to a leopard. His gracefulness is unique, and it’s impossible to keep your eyes off him. It’s really hard to say why; it happens mostly at a subconscious level. I spent two days taking pictures of him. He growled at me, but was always too far away for a good shot. Finally, he actually allowed me to photograph him. For precisely two minutes, he moved around at the right distance and began posing for me. Then he suddenly sprang at me and ended up hanging onto the bars of the cage.”
Picture: © Mikhail Kirakosyan
Equipment: Leica S (Typ 007) with Leica-Adapter H and Hasselblad H lenses (120mm Macro, 180mm, 30–90mm and 300mm)