James Mollison’s Ape Portraits

Posted filed underBooks, Photography, Portraits, Shows.


Much like us, our hairier cousins have their own distinct facial features, unique combinations of jawlines, eye shapes, and nasal widths that make them recognizable on sight. But have you ever studied the differences between other primates’ faces?
Photographer James Mollison took portraits of more than 50 apes : “While watching a nature program on primates I was struck by their facial similarity to our own. Humans are clearly different to animals, but the great apes inhabit that grey area between man and animal. I thought it would be interesting to try to photograph gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans using the aesthetic of the passport photograph- its ubiquitous style inferring the idea of identity.

I decided against photographing in zoos or using ‘animal actors’ but traveled to Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia to meet orphans of the bush meat trade and live pet trade. ”

Mollison also compiled the series, titled James and Other Apes, into a 2004 book with the same name.