A guest post from wildlife photographer NJ Wight.
With any form of artistic expression one works towards establishing their voice; a style that communicates an emotional connection about their subject. As a wildlife photographer, this came very early in my work. I was drawn to the minutiae, the up close, intimate details of the creatures I was observing and photographing. My skills are always trying to catch up to the aesthetic I am chasing, but when I succeed, there is a profound moment of understanding that comes with these bits of life. Tails, teeth, lashes, hair, hips, paws, hooves, hands and feet–they captivate me. They reveal the very essence of an animal and in that moment, they inspire me to stop and to be amazed.
When I started volunteering to take photographs of the chimpanzees at the Fauna Foundation, it was their hands that changed me. The first day I met the chimps I was completely overwhelmed and humbled by these magnificent, soulful and very large animals. I wasn’t really “thinking” when I was shooting–I was too awestruck. When I got home I realized, not surprisingly, that many of the photos I had taken were of hands and fingers. Since that day, whenever I take photos of the chimpanzees, I always find myself looking for “moments” with hands and feet. They speak to me on some profound level. It is not that their hands are so much like mine that captivates me, it is that mine are so much like theirs.
It is through their hands that I try to know them–their emotion, power, strength, intelligence, desire, anger, curiosity and humor. It all flows from those muscular hands; life lines traversing palms, agile fingers with knuckles creased and cracked and dried cuticles edging nails. So full of power and emotion; they reach, hold, throw and touch. Smooth and dark, with movements that are fine-tuned and precise. With those wonderful hands, they ask. They give. They receive. Sometimes gentle, sometimes urgent–always expressive.
I can never look away.
You can read the stories of the chimps of Fauna here.
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You can see more of NJ Wight’s work on njwight.com of Facebook!