The Turtle Feast (Claire Rosen)
Photo editor

Claire Rosen’s photography series, Fantastical Feasts, began with what was a true last supper. She was commissioned by lighting designer Alex Randall, which sprouted the idea for The Pig Feast. “Arrangements were made with a small local pig farmer,” Rosen told In Sight. “He agreed to hold off on sending the pigs to market so that we could do the photo shoot. The idea sprang forth from there … since it might literally be their last meal, the reference seemed appropriate in a macabre way.”

From there she developed the idea as way anthropomorphize various species as a way to inspire the furthering of animal rights. “The feasts invite its viewers to reflect on the nature of society, our relationship and responsibility to the creatures we share the planet with.”

The fantastical storytelling was inspired by Rosen’s early memories of museums, the circus, zoo, and illustrated children’s books featuring humanlike animals like the Peter Rabbit works of Beatrix Potter and “Wind in the Willows.”

The Honeybee Feast (Claire Rosen)

The Hedgehog Feast (Claire Rosen)

The Sloth Feast (Claire Rosen)

The Flamingo Feast (Claire Rosen)

The Cobra Feast (Claire Rosen)

Of her subjects, Rosen noted they each present their own unique challenges; “The Flamingos had no interest in the table or food on it, and I spent many hours (with a very lovely and accommodating assistant wading waist deep in water) waiting for those flamingos. … The Bison Feast was created on a terribly cold day in Indiana and we froze for an awfully long time before the bison would approach the table.”

To help with these challenges, each photograph is a composite of several images. “I set up the tables with food on location and the animals are invited to come and eat. Multiple images are captured and the best frames are assembled in Photoshop to create a final image.”

She has a list of animals she hopes to photograph in the future, including giraffes, but she values each experience from hedgehogs to elephants. “I get so much out of working with the animals — to realize they’re all different individuals, and at the same time, not that different from us.”

The Dromedary Feast (Claire Rosen)

The Cheetah Feast (Claire Rosen)

The Elephant Feast (Claire Rosen)

The Bison Feast (Claire Rosen)

Claire Rosen’s work is on exhibition at the United Photo Industries in Brooklyn until Feb. 17.  The exhibit features Fantastical Feasts and other series included in her book, “Imaginarium: The Process Behind the Pictures.”

More on In Sight:

Unexpected friendships between animals and their humans

Questioning the definition of the American family, through 150 years of photography

The hidden world of seeds

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