Maurice Sendak, the legendary children’s book writer and illustrator, once said that he modeled all the characters of his “Wild Things” after relatives – aunts and uncles who scared him as a child.
I was recently filing through the troves of safari pictures I amassed during our African travels, and I was struck by how many of these wild animal portraits resemble family portraits from the olden days. You know, the sepia ones where no one is smiling but instead staring at the camera as if they were on death row. Before ever going on a safari, I imagined having to stealthily track the wildlife and catching a brief glimpse before it got away. But often, it’s nothing like that. Instead, these animals will stop in their tracks and stare at you just like you are staring at them, giving you a great photo op.
Here I’ve assembled my favorite such “family portraits” of my own Wild Things. If I was Maurice Sendak, I’d use the inspiration to write a children’s book and become rich and famous.