Photo: Jaguar by Vincent Musi

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From National Geographic:

Jaguars, like this one @houstonzoo were once revered as gods by Aztecs and Mayans. There might be 10,000 of them in the wild in Central and South America. Their status is “near threatened” It’s amazing what time and distance will do for your memory. I consider the Big Cat work I’m presenting this week here and @vincentjmusi to be one of my all-time great experiences as a photographer for @natgeo. Humbling, profound and smelly. At the time, the obstacles with regard to lighting and backgrounds seemed insurmountable and I was pretty stressed out during most of the shoot.

We created a studio space for each cat and worked closely with the experts on these captive but untamed animals. It took weeks to make just 8 portraits that would serve to represent big cats in crisis around the world. No photograph we make is worth endangering or stressing an animal for but the photographer is always fair game for getting sprayed and having the life scared out of him.

The animal keepers call this enrichment. You learn your place on the food on the chain with these top predators very quickly. In the end its very much a collaboration to make these pictures with a huge amount of trust on the part of the Zoos and of course the animals. see more of this series this week @vincentjmusi


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