The "Shadow Within" explores man's relation to the wolf and ultimately to himself. 

The relation between nature and culture has played an important role in art throughout the centuries. In this photo project, I invite the viewer to contemplate nature's raw power and purity through the figure of the wolf.  Nature, which we are born with, and culture, which we learn, co-exist within us. Thus, the wolf (nature), even in its purity, exists in shadows. These shadows stand for the taboos in our society: fear, social hierarchy, aggression, sexuality and loneliness.

My first goal with this work was to explore the darker sides of a raw and untamed animal. Instead, I unconsciously found myself projecting my own shadows (those mentioned above) onto my subject. As the concept grew and I was spending time with different wolf-packs around the world, I realized I needed to let go of my preconceptions. I gave up rational control over the work and my intuition took over. In other words, I allowed the wolves to present what they wanted to show me.

This series of photographs also tries to explore the boundaries between the myth and the 'Id'. The 'Id' precedes the ego. It is the purest part of human consciousness and revolves around the basic instincts of being that exist at birth, before identity and culture settle in. While man has gradually drifted further and further away from his true nature, this raw nature still lies within. It is subdued, but still very much present. 

While we live in an age with constant streams of information, the wolf remains a frightening and mystical figure in our collective imagination. But the wolf does not have to be frightening — we make it so. Man tries his utmost to control nature instead of trying to cooperate with it and respect it. Our fear of the wolf reflects our generally discordant relationship with the environment that we are both a part of and dependent upon.

Regardless, they say a huge percentage of human communication is non-verbal. Indeed, language can often obscure what we are really trying to say. Thus, I invite the viewer to find his or her own feelings in response to my photographs.

—Christian Houge

Editor's Notes: Read the excellent (and surprising) interview with the photographer that appeared in the NY Times Lens Blog.