Heather Elder Represents
Reps Journal

Zachary Scott, The New York Times Magazine, and Animals with Minds of Their Own

Photographer and Director Zachary Scott is no stranger to working with animals on set. From the smallest squirrels to the fiercest of crocodiles and from the tameness of a trained chimpanzee to a petulant dairy cow and everything in between, he is used to the unpredictability that comes with photographing animals. It takes a skilled photographer to perfect the temperament and cadence to make the shot work with animals, no matter how well-behaved. So, When the New York Times Magazine needed imagery to accompany an article about animal emotional research, Zachary was a solid choice given his experience with animals and his affinity towards incorporating nature into his shoots. 

Having shot some of the world's biggest comedians, actors and singers, this shoot was a bit of a departure from Zachary's portfolio. Directing humans to show emotion is quite different from directing animals, but Zachary enjoyed the challenge. Zachary creates a harmony between humor and nature in all of his work to achieve the desired narrative from the client. It’s that harmony that is artfully incorporated into the collaborative creative process to story tell. The modern color blocking added dimension to the article and let the animals stand on their own, letting their expressions lead the narrative.  


While Zachary was excited about the chicken, tortoise and rat portraits, the bison, Jack, was the image he most anticipated. Of course, Jack’s size was much larger than the other animals, so Zachary and his team deployed specialized lighting typically only used in high fashion shoots. Jack was a professional through and through and awed the crew with his calm and seemingly intentional movements. A testament to the exceptional care he receives at his home with a third-generation animal handler, Jack’s cooperation through set changes and lighting adjustments is rarely seen in large animals. 

These portraits accompany the article perfectly and aid in the narrative that animals have minds of their own. Aptly supported by Jack’s personalized yardwork by way of trimming (read: munching) of the ranch’s front hedges.