Not many people have the unique experience of growing up on a ranch in Nebraska with peacocks, skunks, rescued foxes and fauns, and a plethora of cattle for pets. Not many people aside from photographer Lennette Newell, that is. Specializing in the pet and animal photography industry, Lennette has mastered the art of working with all kinds of species in conceptual and lifestyle manners.
Not having access to a camera until she was in high school, Lennette wasn’t able to document the surreal memories of her childhood on the farm. In her Ani-Human series, she references the moments from her youth when she would dress up and paint herself like the animals around her. She would use materials around her to mimic the animal and run around the open land alongside them. She was curious about them from a young age, and they were curious about her. In Ani-Human, Lennette photographs models in full body paint next to the real animals they are representing.
In photographing this series, it was almost like second nature to her. She is has a heightened awareness of animal’s behavior, from her own recognition of it as a child, as well as her father’s teaching her in a scientific way. Although she went to college at Brook’s Institute for photography, it wasn’t until years later that she found her way back to her true voice, and stopped listening to people telling her what to shoot in order to make a living.
Although one would assume Lennette enjoys shooting animals most from first glance at her work, she actually loves to photograph people and animals together. It provides a wider story, and has the capability to capture the reaction of the two together that is so special. She is always searching for the challenge of adding more variables to a shoot, getting them together in one shot and making for a natural environment that is akin to her childhood amongst the fauna.
She most recently shot the packaging for Pup-Peroni dog food, which was to be a very natural shot of a dog with the product in its’ mouth, with the dog smiling. In order to get this shot right, Lennette knew she had to cast a dog that knew how to hold something in its mouth naturally, having the ability to look happy at the same time. Lennette made a rubber stick the same size as the Pup-Peroni product, to act as a place holder to put the real product in in post. The shooting process was very loose, where the dog grabbed the rubber stick from the handler on its own, which worked out perfectly.
It’s important for her to let people like her clients know of her background with animals, because she has all the right knowledge of how their bodies can or cannot move, which is crucial information when going into a shoot with a real animal— domestic or wild. She has the ability to set something up she believes the animal will react in a certain way to, so she can easily get the shot everyone desires.