Monday, January 11, 2010


Reposted from Larry Knox's personal blog, peripheral visions.

My daughter, a sophomore in college, just took her first Philosophy class. The teacher assigned a recently published book entitled The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love Death, and Happiness. She loved it and thought I would too. Lending me her copy, complete with highlights and margin notes, I must admit she was correct. It's a remarkable story about the bonds between human beings and beasts, our differences and our similarities.

Discussing the beauty of wolves with my daughter, I reminded her that I had the fortunate experience of photographing a couple of them for a book cover 4 or 5 years ago. It was for the Prestwick House Touchstone Classic Edition of Jack London's classic The Call of the Wild. (I also used a photo from the shoot to create their The Call of the Wild Spotlight Edition cover).

It wasn't but a few days after our conversation that I learned Warner Bros had requested permission to use the Touchstone cover as a prop in an upcoming Clint Eastwood film starring Matt Damon.

What I remembered most from the photoshoot, besides their beautiful, expressive faces, was the manner in which the wolves would walk back and forth, circling and pacing their immediate area. There seemed to be no perceptible movement of the back or shoulders, as you would have expected from a large dog. Instead, they seemed to almost float above the ground, silently, intently gliding. Was it me? I tend to visually enhance movement and settings in my mind, especially over time, but in this instance it wasn't my imagination. The author of the The Philosopher and the Wolf, Mark Rowlands, describes his pet wolf's movement in a very similar manner. Remarking how struck he was with his wolf's movement when they ran together he goes on to describe the beast as if he was "floating an inch above the ground." Apparently wolves use their ankles and large feet to propel themselves forward when walking or trotting. It's an amazing display of grace and stealth that is as unnerving as it is beautiful.

View more photos from this shoot here.

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