Olivier d’Auria

  • An animal photographer


Olivier d'Auria started out as a professional cook, then something radically changed his life: "I was sailing round Cape Horn but had to flee the boat in the middle of the night because the people I was with were ill-intentioned. When I reached land I got lost in the pampa for three days, frightened, cold and hungry; I was even attacked by a puma." Eventually he found his way out, apparently unscathed... but deep inside something had clicked. Back in France, he decided to take his life in hand and do what he had always wanted: observe the world through his own feelings. "An experience like the one I had can't be expressed in words. The only way I had of exorcising the fear I'd felt was photography; since then it has become my life philosophy. A photographer's purpose isn't to photograph a subject but to capture what that subject makes you feel." Olivier works
in many fields – architecture, jewellery etc. – but his favourite practice is portraiture, of animals in particular. Why? "I was attracted to animals and they to me; photography gave that a concrete form." An encounter then, between man and animal? The dividing line is more subtle than that. "Since Cape Horn I feel I've developed something very animal, an instinct. Animals sense it and there's an immediate connection between us, even with those whose owners maintain they are usually aggressive towards people." Olivier's photographs, some of which take more than 30 hours of work, transcend the sitter with considerable feeling and lead us to wonder what indeed a dog or cat is thinking. Are they really only dumb beasts?