Seeing humanity in farm animals

Story highlights

  • Ronan Yver took fun photos of farm animals, getting to know their personalities
  • "I am also telling a story about human beings," Yver said. "I wanted to create caricatures"

(CNN)You can tell a lot about a person from their expressions. Perplexed eyebrows, pursed lips.

Animals are no different.
From raised noses to lowered heads, outward displays of emotion are not exclusive to humans. But perhaps that isn't the message inked in these portraits taken by Ronan Yver.
    Farm animals have their own stories. Their lives consist of more than rolling in the mud and grazing the fields. The perception of farm life cannot be taken at face value. You have to dig deeper for the truth under the skin.
    But it's a story they cannot share -- at least not verbally. So Yver decided to document it for them through two lenses: his Canon camera and his literary prowess.
    Photographer Ronan Yver
    "I shot animals, but I am also telling a story about human beings," Yver said. "I wanted to create caricatures."
    As a primary school teacher in Brent, France, he sees the world through tales of personification, from the legendary "Little Red Riding Hood" to the modern "Puss in Boots."
    In French poetry, Jean de La Fontaine is well known for his fables that criticized Louis XIV during the 17th century. Fontaine replaced humans with animals: Louis XIV was a lion, aristocracy became wolves or foxes, and the weak were portrayed as lambs.
    And thus, Yver's series "Animal Moods" was born out of a respect for allegoric storytelling, a passion for photography and a heavy dose of Animalia.

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    Yver spent several years with farm animals, getting to know their personalities through his wide-angle lens. Seeing the humanity in their eyes, he began to create a catalog of common feelings and moods and character traits, labeling the photos with captions such as "pride" or "elegance" or "innocence."
    "We love our pets, but what about these (animals)?" Yver said. "We feed them and we eat them. But we can also take photographs and tell a story."
    And telling that story was not always so easy.
    "It's so difficult to take photographs of animals," he said. "I'm so close to them I can't hide! ... Sometimes they want to fight!"