Contemporary photography features many animals, living and stuffed. It makes them into objects of mystery. Since Erwitt’s dogs we have also seen portraits of famous dogs (Antoine Schneck) as well as photos of the Japanese rabbit Oolong who could balance almost anything on his flat head (Hironori Akutagawa).
The American photographer Ed Panar delves back into the animal enigma with Animals That Saw Me, a short book with forty images collected taken between 1993 and 2010, limited to 1500 copies. The first volume in a planned series, the book documents the seconds of silent communication that the photographer shared with animals in Canada, the US and Japan.
Little birds, pond frogs, dogs at night with neon eyes, sad dogs, dogs behind a fence, watching us—perhaps they are laughing at our extravagant accessories and machine-like movements. But let’s dive into a groundhog’s gaze: their eyes are fascinating, really, which is very rare indeed. Standing on its hind legs, a groundhog looks like an Indian chief surveying us from his reservation. All around him are his disciples: kittens and baby rabbits, raccoons hiding in the garden. With these meticulous photographs, Ed Panar has given these animals back their dignity, and for that we should thank him.