The Funky Gibbon

My new year’s resolution for 2023 was to get fully back into photography following a 3 year hiatus, but for various reasons out of my control it hasn’t happened. I have, however, been steadily working on a new project.

For the past 3 winters I’ve created a series of images to enter in the Fine Art Photography Awards. This year I’d planned on doing a series on Inequality but I simply haven’t had enough time to put the complex photographs together, so instead I created a short series inspired by a trip to a local wildlife park.

I’m deeply uneasy about keeping animals in captivity and to be honest I’m still in two minds about my trip to the wildlife park (aka zoo). However, having made the decision to go I feel I should use the images I took that day.

There were 3 Gibbons at the zoo and although they were outdoors and able to run around in a field their environment was devoid of any and all stimulation. Apes are closely related to humans, with Gibbons sharing 96% of our DNA, so to see highly intelligent mammals in a captive environment with very little to do was really quite upsetting. I do appreciate, however, that Gibbons are an endangered species, some are critically endangered, and without captive programmes they may face total extinction. So there is a place for keeping endangered species in controlled environments, although I do think more consideration should be given to their mental health at this particular venue.

I thought about the Gibbons driving home and could imagine them in the wild, climbing trees and exploring their native forest habitat. I therefore decided that I would create some images in which they were able to roam freely and interact with their natural world, but when I came to put the composites together they didn’t work. Having lots of trees in the picture took away the focus from the animals and the images looked cluttered and confusing.

Instead, I decided to place the Gibbons in flower meadows. Not in any way a native environment for them, however flower meadows contain all manner of insects and wildlife and at least it would be a more stimulating habitat than the bare grass field the actual Gibbons were being housed in. This was my resulting series:

I finished the last picture at 9.20pm on 10th February and the deadline for the Fine Art Photo Awards is 12th Feb, so I went almost to the wire! I doubt it’s unique enough to be awarded but I’m still happy with it and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.

I really struggle for titles for my images and this series is no exception. I have no clue what title would express the intention behind my creation of the images, so I’ll have to ponder on that today possibly while I’m out this afternoon walking the dog – I do much pondering walking the mutt, it’s very therapeutic! I’ll then have to submit the series, along with 2 or 3 individual images yet to be decided on, tonight or risk missing the closing date. Wish me luck.

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