Since 2011, Andrew McGibbon has been photographing various animals in studio settings, removed from their native context. His most recent project, “Slitherstition” is a series of photographs of more than 30 snakes photographed at close range in front of bright, colorful backgrounds. McGibbon’s pictures, which tread somewhere between commercial portraits and scientific typologies, dispel the snakes’ historically evil mythologies, disarming them into pure design elements and vibrant eye candy.
The snakes came from exotic pet shops and a private breeder. McGibbon worked with a snake handler on all shoots for his own protection, and to help direct the snakes into objects of immaculate form. For McGibbon, the experience of photographing them was not unlike making portraits of people. Spending up to 30 minutes with each snake, his process was incredibly collaborative, both with the trainer, and the snakes, often waiting patiently for them to “relax.” “Some of the more restless ones like the green mamba,” says McGibbon “I only got a handful of shots off before it would slither away. Others, like the common file snake almost seemed to know what we were doing and would pose in really wonderful positions.”
Despite his desire to shed negative associations, the reality of the venomous snakes’ deadly bite had a significant impact on his process. “For the non-venomous snakes,” McGibbon tells us, “I would stand above the animal and simply shoot straight down. For the venomous ones, we had a boom arm for the camera and tethered in to my Macbook. It was so exhilarating being so close to something so unpredictable and dangerous.”
“So snakes are all either constrictor or venomous. A constrictor will wrap itself around its victim and literally squeeze it to death, whereas the ones with venom inject it through a bite, killing their prey that way. My series has both venomous snakes and constrictors. My project is more about the myths surrounding the snake and perhaps changing a few mindsets regarding them, then it is about a kind of zoological study, so I simply wanted a nice variety of shape, size, color and killing preference.”
– Andrew McGibbon
Bio: Andrew McGibbon lives and works in London. He primarily works as a commercial photographer, additionally dedicating his time shooting for non-profit organizations. He has been featured in Trend Hunter, Featureshoot, Shortlist, Design Cloud and various other blogs.