Once, I unexpectedly discovered a photograph of an elephant’s abdomen. I couldn’t figure out how this photo was taken or why it moved me so much, but I could tell that it gave me a wonderful feeling. The impression it left on me was unmistakable.

In looking at that photograph, I felt like I was seeing the skin of an elephant for the first time, while simultaneously, I knew that the sight of the skin was deeply familiar.

In this series, I photographed various animals which caught my eye at the zoo. Each of these animals interested me for their own reasons: for some, I was taken by their form or movement, others their size or strange proportions. In the end, I found that each animal was a unique assemblage of all these qualities.

Although the animals fascinated me in many different ways, I decided (in homage to that elephant abdomen I had once seen) to concentrate only on each animals’ skin. By reducing the animal in time and space to a still, two-dimensional (but deeply textured) photograph, I hope that the viewer will look as if for the first time and re-discover the animals’ beauty in a new way.

—Yusuke Sakai and Alexander Strecker

Follow LensCulture on Facebook and Twitter to discover great photography every day.