Deborah Samuel

Black and White Magazine/Deborah Samuel "Seeing the Unseen”

"Her subject matter may vary, but her vision is firmly focused. Deborah Samuel is a photographer skilled in the bizarre and the beautiful." - Kodak Studio Light

"Photographer Deborah Samuel is a blurb writer's nightmare. With a prodigious talent that allows her to wander blithely, and successfully, all over the creative map, she defies easy categorization." - Peter Giffin, Applied Arts Quarterly

"Deborah Samuel confronts the glitter and glam of LA with her own stark vision," - Karl-Peter Gottschalk, Black & White Magazine (Australia)

"Much of her fashion photography would stand out in any gallery, while many of her art works have appeared on the glossy pages of such magazines as Interview, Esquire, L.A. Style, and G.Q. … Experimentation informs every aspect of her modus operandi." - Gianni Romano, Zoom (Italy)


“Throughout her work Samuel consistently captures the spirit of her subjects in a style that she has made her own. ‘You have to have a lot of patience and an ability to isolate the moments that best define the nature of the breed, but also the character of the particular dog. You need to be “in sync” to draw out these qualities, and it requires you being in touch with your intuition.’ ” - Dawn Sumner, British Journal of Photography

“Deborah Samuel is somebody with a profound sense of the grace to be found in the stillness of dogs as well as the motion…Whether it’s a muzzle or a tail, teeth or nails, a glistening feathered Irish Setter coat or the ridged back of a Ridgeback, or (always, always) the gaze, these photos will continue to compel.” - Christine Adkins, Modern Dog

“Her fascination with the characteristics of different breeds, her instinctual eye and her innate ability to move with each animal into a moment of photographic clarity have never faltered.” - Lauren Carter, Bark

“The resulting collection [dog] will melt the heart of even the most die-hard feline fanatic…” - Applied Arts

"Samuel's work is informed by an eloquent and elegant sensibility, as well as a profound respect for her subjects.” - Bark

“Dog holds its own against the best fine-art books… 'Her printing is extraordinary,' says Andrew Wilkes, contributing editor at Aperture. 'She is in a league of her own.' ” - Jane Gottlieb, PDN

“Chiefly a photography book, Dog combines artistry and affection. Samuel's love for dogs emanates from her images…” - Ellen Kanner, DogFancy

“If you are not canine dependent this book will turn you into an instant addict. The brilliant pictures capture the character of each breed...” - New Zealand Herald

“In elegant photo after elegant photo, each dog's special character, and the beautiful line formed by the body…is delivered in this book.” - Dog & Kennel 

“A photograph stops me in my tracks. It is full of textures and sexy shapes…And so it goes, page after page of exquisitely printed black-and-white photos…The images become symphonic, enveloping me in joie de vivre from man's best friend.” - Connie Bloom, The Beacon Journal


"In Elegy, Samuel at times animates bird bones as a child might. The mixture of playfulness and gentleness this evokes reminds me very much of those chapels in Italy and Portugal where the walls are lined with bones of monks. The spinal columns are often strategically placed along the ceiling supports and other bones are placed decoratively. The chapels were built with the intention to invite us to contemplate our impermanence, something I'm surprised to find myself doing among Samuel's images. Why do we dignify human tragedies with such fanfare, and ignore the tragedies of animals? Why honor one and not the other? A hundred years ago we had the clergy answering those questions. Since then other voices have grown louder-and some of them belong to artists."
- Janieta Eyre, Canadian Art

"She is clearly drawn to animals, their wisdom and beauty and the way they tell us something about human life. She explains the rationalization for her work as an afterthought. It's as if she feels first, and then allows herself to think later."
- Sarah Hampson, The Globe and Mail

"It was the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that originally drew Samuel to this theme. She had wanted to capture the plight of the birds caught in the event through normal photography, but with government agencies blocking access came upon this solution in its place. The inky blacks of the original oil may have been powerful the way it obscured and choked the birds, but now it becomes a background darkness that preserves Samuel's subjects instead. It reminds me of the amazing transformation our bones make, from being mere support structures at the very center while we live to external shells when all else is gone. Empty, except for a reminder of who we are."
- Kurt Abel, CTV NEWS

"Samuel said she not only tried to imagine the relationships these animals had in life, but more importantly, those they would've had if not victimized by the human-inflicted disaster. Within these creative representations of the phases of life and death in the form of skulls, spines, shells, horns and talons, is also a more objective, scientific perspective." - Matthew Wright, National Post

"Samuel said she not only tried to imagine the relationships these animals had in life, but more importantly, those they would've had if not victimized by the human-inflicted disaster. Within these creative representations of the phases of life and death in the form of skulls, spines, shells, horns and talons, is also a more objective, scientific perspective." - Matthew Wright, National Post 

"The resulting series of images capture a meditative and haunting portrait of natural fragility, a narrative of survival and death that speaks to the struggles faced by all living creatures. Depicting the beauty of the natural form and the complexity of the structures that sustain life on our planet." - Canadian Photographers Network 

"Photo artist Deborah Samuel's lyrical images reflect the frailty of life. The work pares modernist photography literally and technically to the bone. Elegy embraces the Brancusi ideal of pure form, of image refined to its essence." - Canadian Art Junkie 

The Extraordinary Beauty of Birds

“Scientists can derive knowledge which is then shared with the museum’s visitors. Artists can achieve something else – they can, in a sense, bring a specimen back to life. Through their vision, the wonder and beauty of a bird that may have been dead for 150 years, is revived.”
Mark Peck /Royal Ontario Museum

“Admiring these images gave rise to a new thought. When we try to create music, weave words, or capture visions with paint or lens, we are trying to make something as beautiful as nature. Deborah’s eye takes mine to the splendor of a feather, an egg, an intricately woven nest. We may have seen these objects before, but we have not seen them with this level of insight.”
Neil Peart / RUSH

Most of the photos show a distinct detail standing out against a black background. On some pages, the iridescent black feathers nearly blend into the backdrop, save for the well-captured textures. On other pages, the colors pop so brightly, it’s surprising to think they’re from the natural world. A few full-body images possess a haunting stillness from creatures typically so full of movement and life. 
Elise Chen / Audubon California

For her new book, Samuel focused on finding what she considered the most important aspects of each individual bird. For some it may be strength, for others patterns, or just pure beauty, she says. According to Peck, Samuel’s photographs reveal an entirely new dimension of the museum’s ornithology collection. “Deborah’s work has brought back a certain life to the specimens,” he says. “It has given the specimens even greater value and, I believe, will inspire people to see the extraordinary beauty of the natural world.”
Nicole Wetsman, Science Friday

PHOTOGRAPHY can allow us to see things differently, offering
a new perspective on a familiar subject. So it is with this new
book. A particular favourite of mine is (Common) Pheasant. Ubiquitous in Britain, it’s easy to overlook this species, but the close-up image of the bird’s neck (from which it gets its alternative name of Ring-necked Pheasant) is stunning. With its iridescent blues and greens, splash of white and wave-like pattern, it’s reminiscent of the ocean.
Rebecca Armstrong, Birdwatch Magazine UK            

Birds serve as a poignant reminder of another sphere we cannot reach—so much so that their connection to heaven and earth has inspired folklore and myths in cultures across the world. "Part of the fascination," reflects Samuel, "is their freedom in flight. How often would we like to have that freedom in our own lives?"The book is an optic tour de force that challenges the viewer to reevaluate the inherent beauty in nature and the aviary world.
Nicole Haddad, New York Spaces Magazine 

What you read in the title is what you see inside the pages of this book: extraordinary photographs of feathers, eggs, nests and skins of birds from around the world but collected together in the Royal Ontario Museum. The images are astonishing because without the book’s title and captions it would be hard to believe that some of them were not computer generated. This is Nature imitating exquisite geometries and colours from the world of art and the result looks like some virtual reality created by digital technology until the box of text that accompanies each photograph is read. The text is meticulously empirical, making the image even more magical because the pattern and the colours are out there in the natural world.
Irish Left Review / Ireland

We are accustomed to seeing representations of nature mediated through the hand of man in books and museums, yet natural elements can stand alone as art. The intimate photographs in The Extraordinary Beauty of Birds: Designs, Patterns and Details offer eloquent examples from the avian world. The photographer Deborah Samuel states that the images in this book are a meditation on what it means to be alive and also serves as “portraits” of abstract ideas. The images were photographed from specimens in the Royal Ontario Museum’s ornithology collection and include details of feathers, eggs, and nests shot against a black background, which accentuates the elegance of the forms and the brilliance of the colors. Attributions and brief descriptions of the objects are provided. This volume will please the 48 million birders and may attract others to bird watching, if not in the field, then through the gifted eye of this photographer.
Jackie M / THE Magazine