Taylor Glenn talks about animal portraits, the Rocky Mountain West, SEWE


Taylor Glenn is a portrait photographer who attempts to capture the essence of his subjects.

His subjects are animals: bears and raptors and large cats.

His photographs will be on display in a special exhibition at Charleston Place Hotel during the Southeastern Wildlife Expo, Feb. 12-14. The images feature animals native to Yellowstone National Park and its ecosystem.

Glenn, whose photographic work is not limited to animal portraiture, grew up in eastern North Carolina but moved to Jackson Hole, Wyo., in 2003.

The Post and Courier asked him about his work ahead of his SEWE appearance.

Q: What turned you into a photographer? And for how long have you been making photographs of wildlife?

A: I was fortunate to have some great travel experiences early in life, which lit a fire under me to explore the world. Photography became a way for me to record and share these experiences.

My passion for it just kind of grew from there. I do not actually consider myself a wildlife photographer although I do often photograph animals. I live in Jackson Hole, near Yellowstone National Park, which is a really wild place with great wildlife.

I like photographing beautiful things, so naturally I end up photographing animals in addition to everything else I document.

Q: What made you move from North Carolina to Jackson Hole?

A: I always loved being outdoors and the mountains are where I am most comfortable and happy. Once I discovered the Rocky Mountain West, I knew I had to be there.

Jackson Hole was one of the first places I visited out West and I absolutely fell in love with the Tetons. It just felt like the right place to be for me.

Q: Your animal portraits are striking in their austerity, clarity and lighting. How do you achieve that? Do you bring live beasts into a studio and ask them to sit quietly in front of a backdrop?

A: My series of animals is based on my approach to portrait photography. They are in fact portraits of these creatures. I wanted to take a different approach to showing these amazing animals from what you might normally see.

These are of course captive animals and they are photographed much like you would any studio portrait, using flash and a paper backdrop.

I have been working with various organizations like the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw. We build a simple studio and bring the animal to the space. I am very careful to ensure they are comfortable with the surroundings because I want to capture them in a very powerful and beautiful moment.

Q: What has been your most thrilling photographic experience? Your scariest?

A: The most thrilling experience is when someone has a positive reaction to the work I have created, and conversely the scariest is putting anything up on the wall to share not knowing what people will think. Anyone who creates art puts their heart and soul into it, which is a really powerful experience. Sharing new work is always a bit scary because you hope people will get it.

Q: Besides wildlife, is there anything else you like to photograph?

A: I am primarily an outdoor adventure photographer so I really enjoy documenting all the fun adventures and travel I have with friends and family.

Q: Is there a certain philosophy or worldview that informs your work? If so, please describe it.

A: Do cool things with good people and you will make better photographs.

Q: The Southeastern Wildlife Expo is a popular and dynamic event that draws many people to Charleston. Will this be your first visit to the Holy City? Have you ever done any work in this region?

A: I reconnected with Charleston over this past year through a good friend who also happens to be part of SEWE. So you could say SEWE is primarily the reason I have connected to the Holy City. I absolutely love Charleston and am honored and thrilled to be participating in SEWE as an artist.