Creature Features is featured in our Spring 2017 issue. (Edited January 2022)
Photographing a goat is a challenge. You might get just five minutes to shoot these lively ruminants to capture their essence.
“You just need a moment,” says Kevin Horan, a 30-year photojournalism veteran who lives on Washington’s Whidbey Island. “You need to notice that moment and capture it—that’s what it’s all about.” Over the past eight years, he’s taken dozens of formal, almost anthropomorphic portraits of goats and sheep in western Washington for his “Chattel” study. (The name is semi-ironic, Horan says: “Chattel means property. The word works in opposition to the palpable personality apparent in the pictures.”)
A neighbor’s boisterous sheep initially inspired the project. Today Horan sets up his partially covered al fresco mini-studio at locations such as New Moon Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary in Arlington, Wash., and the Island County Fairgrounds. The animals can come and go as they please—the goal is to “get them back in the right lighting as many times as everyone has patience for,” he says.
Although Horan doesn’t want to “go to my grave as the goat photographer,” he says, “Chattel” is ongoing. “I still see goats I want to photograph so I’m not quite sure how to bring it to an end,” he adds, with a laugh.
To learn more about “Chattel” and purchase prints, visit kevinhoran.com.