Great shots?

Great shots?

David Chancellor’s new exhibition ‘Hunters’ at the Jack Bell Gallery is a challenging analysis of ‘trophy hunting’ tourism. The above image is perhaps one of those easier to view, a young huntress with a shot antelope slung across her horse. Others show middle-aged men with their ‘prizes’ from the South African bush.

One shows a man sitting relaxed on the ground, holding his gun and smoking a cigarette, with a dead giraffe sloped around his shoulders. Another shows a man standing bolt upright like a soldier on parade, blood staining his trousers, an African helper at his side struggling to hold upright his freshly-shot kill – a large leopard, too long and heavy to hold properly above the ground, its tongue flopping from its mouth.

The conclusions to draw from these images are difficult. Many traditional landowners in Africa have switched from farming livestock to very big game. By protecting the animals for their own business, they in effect become game wardens, making poaching difficult. The very complicated politics of hunting in Africa means there could be a net gain for the animals hunted, though one suspects most conservationists would prefer an alternative solution.

Many of the trophy hunting customers are hedge fund managers, surgeons, doctors, barristers. They don’t hunt for the food, and some save up years for the chance to make their dream kill. Chancellor’s beautiful photographs allow the viewer to make up their own mind, neither glorifying the kill, nor demonising the hunters.

Photographer David Chancellor was born in London but lives and works in South Africa. ‘Hunters’ won the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and also earned him a World Press Photo award. The exhibition is accompanied by the launch of a new book.

Image: ‘Huntress with Buck’ © David Chancellor

‘Hunters’ is at the Jack Bell Gallery, 13 Mason’s Yard, London SW1Y 6BU, from 31 October to 10 November 2012. For more information visit

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