Animal lovers, brace yourselves for some bittersweet images. The photographs from Annie Marie Musselman’s series Finding Trust focus on patients at the Sarvey Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. A couple hours drive from Seattle, Musselman’s home, the good people at the center take in hundreds of injured critters from the wild, nursing them to health. Finding Trust is personal project that was shot over seven years, during which time Musselmann made weekly trips to volunteer at the center and take photographs.
The longevity of her relationship with this place is evident in the images. I have never come across animal photography that is brimming so much with compassion, tenderness and intimate, complex emotion. She treats these animals with the same respect she would show any human subject—these are serious portraits. The magnificence, intelligence and rich character of each one of these creatures shines through. Their beauty is starkly contrasted with the unnatural surroundings of a scruffy human-built center, obviously in need of some TLC itself.
The photographs have a gorgeous depth and quality of light, despite often obviously being quick snapshots, capturing a passing moment. Annie Musselman does not falter at showing pain and anguish—for some of the patients this will be their resting place. For me, the most touching image is that of an eagle, its head resting on a bright blue towel. The photo is cropped to lead our focus to the expression in its clear brown eyes. I haven’t been in close proximity to birds very much, and I was struck by the intensity of feeling held in this gaze: the fear, sadness and immense dignity of the majestic bird.
I can’t speak highly enough of Annie Musselman. You must see the rest of this series on her website, and maybe even buy the recently published book. She also has a series on wolves, commissioned from The Getty Images Grant For Good and one that documents baby orangutans. Just you try and keep your eyes dry looking through these!