Bibi Cornejo Borthwick on Photographing Animals

Pin It
French Bulldog Brooklyn
French Bulldog BrooklynPhotography by Bibi Cornejo Borthwick

Bibi Cornejo Borthwick on her newfound love for animal portraiture

"My new obsession is photographing animals. I’ve got a French Bulldog called Brooklyn. Working and living in New York can be so crazy that to have a moment of solitude with him after a stressful day is amazing. I like the fact that when you’re shooting people you have a communication that’s very verbal, and when you’re with animals it’s very energetic. It’s really interesting when you have to base your photography in something that is so natural, that you don’t have control over. When it’s just finding that peace in that moment and capturing it. It’s a very organic thing. There’s no hair and make-up, there’s no conversation, it’s just about creating a moment, a dialogue between you and that animal, and that’s really special." 

Bibi Cornejo Borthwick first realised that she wanted to be a photographer aged 14, when on a trip to South Africa with her father, photographer Mark Borthwick. "He was on a job but we were staying at a hotel that was affiliated with a non-profit and we got involved with that. It felt like I needed to document it at the time and then, when I came home and I looked at the pictures, I saw it in a completely different way. I love that about photography, that every time you look at the picture you can see something different." She has developed her interest into a career – starting out by assisting her father, shooting work for the likes of Comme des Garçons, Pop Magazine and now Coach, she has found herself with an incredibly impressive CV for a 23-year-old.

She spent her early years in France, and this, plus her heritage – British father, Chilean mother – has instilled a love of exploration. "I have realised that the things I want in my life, they come through travel and experiences. It’s not about having a very contained life in one place." Currently splitting her days between New York and LA, inspiration comes less from other photographers than from the physical world discovered while moving around – interior design, nature, the architecture of Isamu Noguchi. "I'm fascinated by shadows, the shapes of buildings. I really love things that are graphic but in a timeless way." Animals are becoming a central focus – a recent editorial for Pop Magazine starred a pair of horses – but her favourite subject remains her own: "Brooklyn is so used to me photographing him that as soon as I pull my phone out, he stands still. He just knows."

Bibi Cornejo Borthwick wears cropped mod jacket and cotton flare trousers by Coach. Click here for her favourite places in the city, here for her take on her favourite Coach bag and here for illustrator Gary Baseman's dissection of his darkly whimsical Coach cartoon characters.