A Mother's Love - Still Life Photography & The Animal Kingdom

I wanted to convey the beauty and serenity of the Mother and Child chimpanzee in this Still Life image.

Her gaze is clearly one of love and devotion to her baby. This is universal. It is something that parents all over the world, feel everyday towards their children. A similar devotion can be found in the animal kingdom too.

Obviously their are exceptions. Some animals sometimes eat their offspring. Mother hamsters can devour their children, which could be for extra protein, or a human scent on the babies, causes confusion in the hamster into thinking that their baby is breakfast. Polar bears have also been known to eat their cubs and lions have been known to eat theirs too, if that cub is weak or they cannot get any food to eat.

But on the brighter end of the scale we have all seen documentaries where are animals go to great lengths in order to protect and provide for their children. Weddell seals actually teach their offspring to survive the perilous Antarctic waters and on the ice, where they are taught to open new air holes with their teeth and to file back old ones to stop them from re-freezing.

The bond between female Sumatran orangutans and their babies is one of a kind. The females only have babies once every nine years. From six months old, with the tutelage of the mother,  the young will practice building nests high in the tree tops. Mothers will also teach them to find and eat, ripe fruit.

Both parents of the strawberry poison dart frog will take care of their babies. The father guards the eggs which are laid on the forest floor and will also urinate on them to keep them moist. Because the baby tadpoles will eat each other if left alone, the mother transports every single one of them individually, on her back, up into the trees, to find a safe spot of water to put them in separately! Parenthood does not get much more devoted then that!

I wanted to reflect the purity of this bond between the two apes, so I thought of them being on an ocean of calmness, just the two of them, without a care.  A simple technique of using white plexiglass created the illusion of being on a rock in the sea or a river, because of the gentle reflection that the material will provide.

The rest of the world is unimportant; the rocks can be viewed as a symbol of calmness, particularly when stacked (mine are not stacked but positioned in a strict composition).

I think that this image delivers the message of love and serenity. Love is shown in the mother’s face, her cradling of the child and the child's gaze. Serenity is conveyed on the faces of the chimps and in the abstract environment that they inhabit: the pure white background, and the purity of strength and stillness of the rock.

It is amazing that a simple Still Life composition and a tiny model can reflect universally powerful themes and emotions.