Photo: Robin Schwartz

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Of course, inhabiting that world calls for some improvisation. Amelia once broke the ice with a herd of alpacas by sprawling on the grass with a big bowl of feed on her stomach. "We invent a scene and then go with the flow," Schwartz says. "We depend on these animals trusting Amelia. I want the photos to appear like I'm just a fly on the wall." Sometimes things do get a little wild on set—like the Canadian shoot where Amelia suddenly found herself airborne on an elephant's trunk. But the young animal whisperer knew to keep her cool: "Shiba had a tight grasp," she says. "She wasn't going to drop me."