“Animals are everywhere in London”: Megan Eagles portrays intimacy between London’s pets and their owners

Wildlife might not be the first thing you associate with London – photographer Megan Eagles wants her project London is a Jungle to change your mind.

Date
2 December 2021

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Megan Eagles’ decision to photograph pets began as a lighthearted endeavour: “I thought it would be a fun project where I get to hang out with some furry friends for an afternoon!” And certainly, shots of a poodle in a pink car and dozens of bunnies on a bed exude fun. But now, having captured such an array of distinctive and profound relationships, her project has morphed into a moving series on the importance of interspecies companionship.

Raised in Wales, the photographers’ creative journey began close to home. “I picked up my mum’s old Pentax 35mm when I was 15 and loved the process of working in a black and white darkroom at the local arts centre,” she explains. Being “self-taught,” Megan's process involves “a lot of trial and error.” And, after becoming “disillusioned” by fashion editorials – which she practised for a number of years – she made the move to documentary. The shift, however, wasn't smooth sailing and she had to quickly adapt to a less rigid style of photography: “you really have to learn to direct people not used to being in front of the camera, making the best of available light and location when you’ve only got a few minutes to take the shot.”

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Megan Eagles: London is a Jungle (Copyright © Megan Eagles, 2021)

The most striking feature of London is a Jungle is how well Megan portrays the strong bonds between the pets and their owners. Through her considered style; warm tones, a soft lens and domestic settings, she focuses on the intimate moments. The shot of Lorraine and her “rescue chicken” Specky Megan cites as one of her favourites in the series because “you can really see the tenderness of their relationship.” In the photo, Lorraine holds Specky in a loving embrace, both seemingly reassured by the other’s presence. After being attacked by other chickens, Specky now “prefers people,” even joining Lorraine on road trips and hotel stays. The series, therefore, doesn’t only portray pets and their owners, but lasting friendships too.

Not only does Megan's work depict strong bonds but it also creates them. Describing herself as “shy” but also liking to “chat to strangers,” Megan has found searching for animals to shoot “a great conversation starter.” Seeking pets and their owners in numerous places, from hobbyist groups to animal shows to simply approaching people on the street, Megan’s work relies on a sociable approach: “I love the intimacy of just you and the subject, spending time with them and hearing people’s stories.”

Shooting animals, however, isn't always easy work. Due to Megan’s choice of Camera – “a big, heavy medium format camera which has a loud shutter” – her animal subjects often end up “intrigued or concerned by the noise.” She recalls one particularly troublesome shoot: “I photographed a beekeeper […] and the bees did not like the noise and swarmed the camera which I had to run away from.” Physical danger aside, we think that it is this sense of unpredictability and movement that Megan’s photos convey which makes her body of work so lively and unique. In one photo, two hairless cats – looking characteristically displeased – squirm in the hands of their owners, whilst in another, a parrot soars into the distance, its owner gazing up proudly. With such a recognisable yet unexplored subject matter executed in such a pleasing style, London is a Jungle will leave you planning a trip to the pet shop.

GalleryMegan Eagles: London is a Jungle (Copyright © Megan Eagles, 2021)

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Megan Eagles: London is a Jungle (Copyright © Megan Eagles, 2021)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in illustration, photography, ceramic design and platforming creativity from the north of England.

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