Wild Side: Portrait series unveiled

WILD SIDE: Rohan Thomson spent four months photographing animals, including Darkle the brown bear, at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra.

WILD SIDE: Rohan Thomson spent four months photographing animals, including Darkle the brown bear, at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra.

What’s that saying about never working with children and animals? Fairfax Media photographer Rohan Thomson almost got more than he bargained for when a lion lunged at him during a recent photography project.

LOOK: Leo the meerkat, photographed using studio protrait techniques.

LOOK: Leo the meerkat, photographed using studio protrait techniques.

Thomson worked over four months with Canberra's famed National Zoo and Aquarium to capture a series of stunning animal portraits using techniques usually used for indoor studio work.

See the full Wild Side interactive here.

"Photographically it was about capturing some of the personality and beauty of these animals in a way that you don't normally see them, lit as if they are a person in the studio," Thomson said.

KING: Jake the white lion took a lunge at the photographer, thankfully through a fence, during the Wild Side photography project. Pictures: Rohan Thomson

KING: Jake the white lion took a lunge at the photographer, thankfully through a fence, during the Wild Side photography project. Pictures: Rohan Thomson

Logistics proved the most difficult aspect of the shoot.

"We had to gradually expose the animals to elements of my gear, so they would get used to it before each shoot," Thomson said. "Photographing a large animal like a lion that's not trained is no easy task so we would bring in parts of the gear even weeks before, which helped get us closer to the animal on the day of the actual shoot.”

There were a couple of hairy moments. “The lion lunged at me a couple of times, even though I was shooting through a fence it was still pretty heart-stopping," he said.

Thomson’s Wild Side portraits are available for purchase (prices from $90) through Fairfax Media’s The Store. A portion of the funds go to conservation charities selected by the zoo.