August 8, 2010

Primates on two sides of the glass

Here's a few photos from a series that I worked on between around 2002 and 2007. I first started studying anthropology when I was 26, after several years of focusing on photography. When I first took up photography I was heavily influenced by photographers such as Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Ansel Adams, and Minor White. Eventually, however, I gravitated to the work of people like Walker Evans, Dorthea Lange, and Sebastaio Salgado--I definitely became more interested in documentary work. This zoo project marks my transition to anthropology. I used to head to the zoo all the time, and I spent most of my time watching one class of primates--the zoo patrons who flooded past the enclosures day after day. To see some more of these photos, look here.


JM said...

Hi Ryan,

Excellent series, I love the subject and what you put to it.
The third picture is particularly great in this context.

Do you think that what you've learned in anthropology would change your way of taking pictures, if you were to consider this subject again ?

Ryan Anderson said...

Hey JM,

Ya, I think if I did this again it would come out a lot differently. When I did these I was just kind of a photographer on the sidelines watching somewhat informally. If I did this again I would want to do something a lot more ethnographic--meaning that I would want to interview people and get some more from them about their experiences and perspectives. Also, I think I would want to do more direct portraits, rather than just grabs from the sidelines, which is what most of these are. So ya, if I did this again it would be a lot more overt, if that makes sense.

Fran Barone said...

Ryan, I love this series of photos and the story behind them. Thanks for sharing.

Ryan Anderson said...

Thanks for the comment Francine. Zoos are fascinating and strange places...and great places to study various kinds of primates (including the ones that buy 60 oz sodas and crowd around gorilla exhibits).