Animals & Nature

Flirting With Nature: How Katerina Plotnikova Takes Photography to the Next Level

Have you ever cuddled with a bear? No, we don’t mean a teddy bear. What about taking a stroll with an owl? Or being kissed by an elk? True, this sounds like something we would see in a fantasy movie. But in fact, we’re talking about real life. We’re talking about Katerina Plotnikova and her wild photography.

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Image: Instagram / Katerina Plotnikova

When you look at Katerina’s photography, you might (very reasonably) suspect that her pictures are Photoshopped to include the wild animals. Not so fast, dear skeptic. They are all 100% authentic, and all the animals are real. We’ll check out some her coolest shots and get behind the lens for an exclusive look at how she makes her magic happen

The Artist

Katerina Plotnikova comes from a small town near Moscow, Russia. She started developing a passion for visual arts when she was just six years old. She discovered photography when she enrolled in college as a young woman. One of the course requirements for an advertising class included taking some pictures.

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Image: Instagram / Katerina Plotnikova

She realized that she loved taking photos, and all of her passion for visual arts bloomed into a passion for the photographic arts. These days, her life consists of travel and photography as she tours the world taking pics and composing her mythological-esque frames.

The Animals and the Method

Whenever people sit down with Katerina to ask about her photography, the first question is always regarding the animals. They ask “Are they real?” And her answer is always an unequivocal “yes!” These animals have diverse backgrounds and stories. Some of them have been domesticated, such as a cute fox who often models for Katerina.

Some of them have been trained to work with humans, like Stephan the bear. He has over 18 years of experience, and he’s reportedly a real sweetheart. Others, such as Chanel the tiger, are rescue animals; her mother abandoned her when she was a cub, and she would not have survived had it not been for the care of humans. Thus all the animals are accustomed to being around people.

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Image: Instagram / Katerina Plotnikova

Katerina seeks out human models, often red-haired ones, who are willing to work with the animals. Her preferred spots for shooting are always outside in nature. So to make a shoot happen, she needs to pick a spot, find the human models, and find animals whose parents/trainers are willing to do a photoshoot.

It’s not without its challenges though. For example, all animals, but especially those that graze, like camels, love to eat and snack on the leaves and grass that are available to them on set. So a common difficulty Katerina faces is to time the photo such that the animals are not mid-snack. And of course, for her as well as for the human models, working with and being around big animals can be intimidating.

When the photo shoot is done, she edits the pictures in order to accentuate the dreaminess factor. Not all of her pictures include animals; she does all sorts of other cool things. Chairs suspended in trees, plague doctors, deserts, you name it. Anyway, if you like photography, we recommend you check out her awesome work!