Val Shaff, Portraits of Animals


Although we all hate facebook these days, we still check in to see how much fun our friends are having. Sometimes we snoop around a bit to see who our friends are friends with. And occasionally one is surprised to find an old friend from a different era (the 80’s) and location (NYC) on a current friend’s list. That’s what happened with me and Val Shaff, animal photographer to the stars. She was BFF’s with my sister way back when, then shot MY best friend’s wedding, and (thank you facebook) turns out to be a good buddy of my yoga teacher here. Our paths just continue to cross. You may sort of know her, too. She’s worked with Martha Stewart, The Gap, Purina, and even did a portrait shoot (of dogs!) in the window of Barney’s. She’s been taking pictures of animals long before #dogsofinsta was a hashtag.

These days she’s living in the Hudson Valley and has turned her Hasselblad lens on the creatures in the country. The girl is smitten with animals and they seem as smitten with her. Her oversize portraits of sheep and horses and, yes, plenty of dogs, have an eerie human quality. It’s hard to imagine how Val captures these images, but she says in a non-verbal world, it’s easy to stay present and give them her full concentration. They give it right back as they peer guilelessly into her camera.

Opportunity abounds at the local farms, but her favorite images are of creatures that folks don’t necessarily have the warm fuzzies about: marmosets, crocodiles and even snakes. (Some of these photos were taken at sanctuaries, and yes, that’s her with her arm around a lion; I guess fearlessness helps, too). Maybe I’m a bit more pedestrian, but that flock of sheep would look fantastic in my studio. She offers her large-scale prints on canvas in various sizes on her website, and is available for portraits of you and your favorite animal, too.

Have a look here:

Val Shaff Animal Portraits