Backstory - Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas

A calico bag of rice turned out to be my most useful piece of kit for this shoot. Borrowed from the hotel’s kitchen, the chef was perplexed but very generous. He said it was his best quality rice.

Mountain gorillas live on steep slopes among thick foliage and it is very tricky to set up a tripod. Instead I used as a stand the borrowed pouch of rice, which acted like a photographer’s sandbag or beanbag. It might sit directly on the ground, on branches, even on the shoulders of rangers. “Don’t breathe,” I asked them softly, and they held their breath.

Time is limited. National park rules state that visitors must spend no more than one hour in the company of gorillas and I was concerned about getting enough useable footage. I need not have worried. Gorillas are curious and they love the lens. I think they could see their reflection in the glass. I will always remember the blackback Posho who locked eyes with me, and then when I moved behind the camera, switched his gaze to look down my lens. I wondered if he was looking at his reflection.