Spotlight on Randal Ford

Chrissy Crawford
Feb 26, 2016 10:51PM

Need more baby animals in your life? Welcome Texas based photographer Randal Ford and his collection of exotic baby animals. 

Read below to see Randal capture his tiny subjects, discuss who's the biggest diva of the animal kingdom, and who is renowned for having accidents on set. 

Purchase his work and truly give the best gift EVER. 

Hometown: Dallas 

Current location: Austin 

Occupation Description: Photographer & Director 

Best animal moment?: Photographing a big cat in studio for the first time. All in the same day, I photographed a Lion, Tiger, and Bear (Oh my!). And the experience photographing the Bengal Tiger was just incredible. Being in a studio with a big cat off leash is an experience I will never forget. The size and presence of big cats are so tangible, so powerful yet graceful, and commands respect. Time flies but at the same time, stands still. 

Scariest animal moment?: I was photographing a 1 year old mountain lion (cougar, puma, same thing) had a low rumbling growl the entire time we had him in studio. The trainers were feeding him raw chicken and he was using his hands to grab it off the feed stick. He swiped at the chicken and it landed at my feet. He jumped off the riser he was on and came down to eat the chicken at my feet. The fear inside me was literally like a rushing wave drowning me. But I knew damn well not to move. I took a deep breath, HUGE deep breath, as the trainer gently walked him back up on the riser, luring him with more chicken.

Do the baby animas get stage fright?: Not really. Most baby animals I’ve worked with are sweet and comfortable around people. The biggest challenge with baby animals is that they move so fast. Whether it’s a Tiger cub or Racoon, the small animals never slow down. It’s nonstop action and I’m trying to capture a split second where they show off their personality.   

Whose the biggest diva of the animal kingdom? :  Bears. I’ve photographed a grizzly bear, black bear, and bear cub in studio. All three of these subjects were pretty difficult. Being omnivores they are interested in all sorts of food, anything on hand. Big cats have a laser focus which is scary at times but they are more behaved. Bears on the other hand seem to have a bad case of ADD and want to mess with everything. I was photographing a grizzly bear (his name was Bam Bam) and his lack of focus was really making me nervous. The trainer noticed I was a bit uneasy about the situation and he said, ‘Don’t worry Randal he’s not going to hurt you. . . He might knock you down, but he’s not going to hurt you.’ Jeez. That wasn’t very reassuring! 

What animals have had an accident on set?: Birds are one of my favorite in studio subjects but literally every bird I’ve photographed (over 25) have all gone to bathroom while in front of the camera. Other notable animals who have decided to ‘go’ on set are bears, cows, goats, and the unforgettable armadillo. Wew.  

How do you find the baby animals and how are they different to work with than the adults?: The baby animals are more challenging to find because they are only babies for so long. The sweet spot for a tiger cub seems to be 2-3 months while a horse might be 1 month. So you just have a very limited age window to photograph the animal. And as mentioned above, they are different from adults in that they move constantly and fast and aren’t as motivated by food. So in general I would say baby animals are much more difficult to photograph than adult animals. 

What is your favorite name for a pet? Ours is Party Hat: Haha, I actually love pet names that are traditionally human names. I’d like to name a cat, Steve or a dog, Jonathan. Or maybe name a bird, Jennifer or Karen. How about Dorothy for a cow or Garth for a chicken?  

What’s your Spirit Animal?: Wolf. Wolves are in touch with their instincts, they have an appetite for freedom yet cannot thrive without their social connectivity. They have a sense of skepticism and their trust has to be earned. Throughout the process of photographing these animals, I’ve had more dreams about wolves than any other animals.  

What’s the best part of your job?: The fact that no day is ever the same. And of course, the fact that I get to create art and tangible work.

Chrissy Crawford