My work is an on-going visual exploration of the negative and positive ways that we treat Homo sapiens sapiens (“wise wise man”). In Kith or Kin? I specifically look at our relationship with non-human primates.
Many of us are acutely aware of the disheartening similarities between the ways we treat our fellow human beings and the way we treat the other residents of our planet. We only have to look at our history with regards to slavery, racial apartheid, genocide, and the recent rise of radical groups like ISIS to know that even small differences amongst ourselves can lead to appalling behavior.
When it comes to the Great Apes and other monkeys, the paradigm is no different. People love to be entertained by primates on television, whilst others will pay huge amounts of money to visit them as safari tourists out in the wild. We derive great satisfaction from watching them caged in zoos or performing in circuses. We experiment on them, advancing ourselves in the name of science. Some eat them. Cages, chains and reckless cruelty are the norm.
But just a little quiet observation and introspection can quickly reveal how harmoniously we are capable of interacting with these animals, our closest relatives.
I have been privileged to work with wildlife in many parts of Africa and have been lucky enough to capture these images as the events unfolded in front of me. Observing these moments has been transformative.
I was initially drawn to wildlife photography through a need to photograph the spectacularly wild world around us. But over time, I’ve become painfully aware that humans are very much part of this world, whether or not we are visible in the supposedly pristine frames of wildlife photography.
This often overlooked dynamic galvanized me to take a holistic approach to my multi-media work. Conservation and the impact of humankind on the world around us is becoming increasingly important. This planet—our Earth—can only have a viable future if we recognize the fact that although humans are a large part of the problem, we are actually part of the solution too.
Editors’ Note: Don’t miss the work of all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Earth Awards 2015. In total, you’ll find 34 unique points of view inspired by the earth, nature and our shared surroundings. Beauty, destruction, wonder and hope—these are timely, important works that shouldn’t be missed!