As an ecologist by degree and naturalist at heart, I have always had a profound interest and love of the natural world and a desire to see humans co-exist in harmony with the other. In the moment I took this picture, we had been visiting this family’s home for a couple hours and the science team was asking them about the wildlife in the area. After asking permission to photograph them, the family and their pet spider monkey had forgotten I was there and went about their usual routine. I sat on a stoop near an open door with the light streaming where the monkey would often return in his wanderings when one of the younger sons offered the monkey a snack. They started interacting, petting, grooming and playing with each other. This moment where the monkey settled at the feet of the boy wrapping his hand affectionately around the boy’s leg but looking away into the distance, captured both the sadness of the circumstances of how the monkey arrived in their home and also the sweet connection that can be made between humans and wildlife.
How I got the shot
This image was taken during a six-week scientific expedition to the western Amazon, which I was invited to join as an independent photographer and journalist. We were searching for a species of saki monkey that hadn’t been recorded and 80 years and was thought to be extinct. (Which we did later find). One of our efforts during the trip was to visit homes along the rivers to interview families about what animals they were seeing in the forest. They would often have baby monkeys in the home that were taken from the forest when their mothers were killed for food or the wildlife trade. After following the monkey around this family’s home, I decided to sit on a light-filled stoop in front of this colorful wall and wait for a moment to capture.
What I used
Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 24-105mm lens. It didn’t involve any fancy equipment, just natural light, a chosen spot, patience, and blending in so the family and monkey would forget I was there.