Another brief additional comment about the typologies in photography, based on a suggestion sent to me by my tutor. The work of photographer James Mollison in addition to being surprisingly fresh and visually striking, introduces a new and interesting element in portrait photography.
Perhaps his works for important commercial publications and magazines (New York Time, The Guardian, Le Monde, GQ) or his collaboration with the fashion firm Benetton have influenced him, as evidence the use of a clear and direct visual language, bright and lively colours and a simple aesthetic prone to isolate the subject in neutral backgrounds, avoiding any kind of distraction of the viewer in the interpretation of the image. In some cases, such as in his work “Kupata Kuzunguta”, I find an aesthetics very similar to commercial product photography. His African origins (Kenya, 1973) and the fact that some of his series includes subjects or themes from African can also explain the predominance of the colour in his compositions.
One of the most fascinating works of this photographer is the book “James and other Apes”, in which he portrays different species of primates (chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans …) using an aesthetic similar to that of the passport photograph. For this he traveled to protection reserves of orphan primates in the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon or Indonesia.
Certainly, the direct look of the primates to the camera, with this style of portraiture that seems reserved for human beings, since it requires the subject’s will, introduces a point of interest in these photographs, and allows us to establish a relationship of complicity with the subjects, who look back at us in this kind of specular encounter. In their eyes we meet and recognize ourselves. Although only based on emotional aspects, perhaps this work could be a good starting point for a debate on the animal rights.
The eyes and facial expressions of some of these primates are of great intensity, and the series includes portraits of young specimens, in which we see the tender traits of childhood or the insolence of adolescence, and adult specimens faces where, like us, time has left its mark on them.