Photographer's Up-Close Images of Animal Eyes Will Have You Seeing Wildlife in a Whole New Way

A parrot eye
A parrot eye / Suren Manvelyan

Few people ever get close enough to a hippo, hyena, or crocodile to snap a photo of one, let alone get a detailed shot of their eyes. Yet that is exactly what theoretical physicist-turned-photographer Suren Manvelyan, of Armenia, has done. His macro photography series of animal eyes, spotted by My Modern Met, offers a rare look at the animal world, amplified.

Some of Manvelyan's eye photos—like that of the camel, which has three eyelids—look like strange landscapes on some distant, alien planet. The smallest details have been captured in his photos, from the kaleidoscopic irises of the chinchilla and chimpanzee to the shimmery edges of a raven's eye. If the photos weren't labeled, it might be difficult to tell what you were looking at.

"It is very beautiful and astounding," Manvelyan told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. "The surface resembles the surface of other planets, with craters, rivers, and valleys. It looks like something from another world. Every time I photograph the eye, I feel myself traveling through the cosmos."

Manvelyan keeps his photography techniques secret, but he says he sometimes spends an hour with an animal just waiting to capture the right moment. To date, he has photographed both domestic animals (like a husky dog and Siamese cat) as well as exotic ones (including a variety of tropical birds and lizards). Check out some of his shots below, and visit his website to see more photos from this series.

A caiman lizard's eye
A caiman lizard's eye / Suren Manvelyan
A camel's eye
A camel's eye / Suren Manvelyan
A chinchilla's eye
A chinchilla's eye / Suren Manvelyan
A raven's eye
A raven's eye / Suren Manvelyan
A husky dog's eye
A husky dog's eye / Suren Manvelyan
A horse eye
A horse eye / Suren Manvelyan
Eye of a chimpanzee
Eye of a chimpanzee / Suren Manvelyan
A tokay gecko's eye
A tokay gecko's eye / Suren Manvelyan

[h/t My Modern Met]