4 out of 4 stars
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Life Behind Bars Vol. 1 by Julian Starks is a stunning photographic study featuring endangered and exotic animals. Due to the many dangers these animals face in the wild, Starks refers to captivity as a "necessary evil." Recognizing their need for protection and sanctuary, Starks started Visions of the World Inc., a nonprofit group to educate and raise awareness. A portion of the sales from Starks' photography collection will be donated to support his nonprofit and the institutions that protect endangered species.
Starks' photography is flawless, as is the book's editing. The adage is true; "a picture is worth a thousand words." Through the lens of his camera, Starks captures artistic "mug shots" of lions, tigers, cheetahs, snow leopards, hyenas, baboons, polar bears, penguins, alligators, giraffes, gorillas, and more that portray beauty and evoke an emotional response. He invites readers to "go out and hunt" with their cameras, as he provides specific facts about each animal, including its population status: "least concern, near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered."
There is a lot to like about this beautiful collection. My favorite photograph features a polar bear swimming; it is a work of art, particularly Starks' ability to capture the movement of the animal in the water. Starks refers to his favorites as "Julian's Picks," and a few of these caught my eye as well. "The Cheetah Brothers" is the perfect representation to illustrate that the agile animals can escalate from 0-60 mph in just 3 seconds. Starks captioned the striking image: "Four seconds and 42 photos later, this photo was the only one in focus with all 8 paws off the ground." The affectionate nuzzling pictured in "The Loving Lion Couple" conjures visions from The Lion King and Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"
Additionally, Starks includes points of interest regarding the animals he photographs. For instance, he mentions that mountain lions purr, but despite their friendly depictions in movies, meerkats are aggressive and make terrible pets. Readers may also appreciate Starks' accomplished background in the arts. He graduated from the Brooks Institute of Photography, studied film production, and appeared as an actor in The Bold and the Beautiful and Parenthood.
There wasn't anything I disliked about the content of the collection. However, to adequately view each image and its accompanying text, it was necessary to enlarge and then exit before proceeding to the next page. I found this slightly inconvenient; it seems the Kindle formatting could have been improved. However, this was a minor distraction in an otherwise exceptional collection.
Overall, I rate Life Behind Bars 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend the stunning book to animal lovers and fans of photography collections. Although it contains no profanity, Starks comments on the humorous photograph, "Flipping Gorilla"; the animal appears to be giving the photographer an offensive gesture.
Life Behind Bars Vol. 1
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