Taking portraits of chimpanzees isn’t easy, but knowing how they move around their home makes it a lot easier to catch them at the right moments.
In the past, we’ve described Front Room 4 as “The Portrait Studio.” This small indoor enclosure has three pneumatic doors that allow the chimps to move freely between their greenhouse, playroom, and other front rooms. The area is notably furnished with a couple of wall-mounted platforms, the lower of which provides the perfect bench for curious chimpanzees to look out the window or down the caregiver hallway. When a chimp is sitting in that precise location, the diffuse natural light from the window illuminates their face while softening the background with an effortless vignette. In short, the lighting is ideal for easy portraits.
If you want to see some content from the studio, I recommend checking out these posts featuring the chimps who reside in that wing of the Chimp House: Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra.
Last week, I encountered Jamie sitting serenely in the studio before breakfast. She was holding the crumpled remains of a hardcover book.
I saw Burrito sitting in the same spot later that morning. Instead of literature, however, Bubba was wielding a broken enrichment puzzle and showing it off like a trophy.
We caregivers have been searching for new ways to photograph and record video of the chimps in the new wing of the building, too. Although there isn’t an exact replica of the Front Room 4 studio on that side, we’ve discovered that the new greenhouse enclosures provide some unique perspectives. When an individual is perched on one of the closer logs, for example, they’re at the perfect height and distance for mid-range portraits. Gordo graciously modeled for the camera in this exact location yesterday afternoon.
We have Gary of Sage Mechanical to thank for these natural enrichment structures. The Sage crew ferried these heavy tree trunks all the way from Gary’s coastal property to the sanctuary with the new greenhouses in mind. They have asked us for pictures and video of the chimps utilizing the logs as bridges; I hope they’re proud to see that the logs are an integral part of our newest photo booth, too.
In case you missed them when they were originally posted, here are some other staff photos of the chimps sitting on the studio logs.