The People of the Forest

  • Photographer
    Mark Edward Harris
  • Prize
    1st Place / Book/Nature
  • Jury Top 5 Selection

    Kevin O Connor An important book highlighting yet again our ability to destroy our ‘unique” planet, nothing is sacred. Beautifully made portraits that really do get to the sole of these magnificent creatures.

    Michael Zajakowski There are a few tools a photographer has at her or his disposal for ensuring that the point of a photo essay is driven home. Three of them—extensive research, a telephoto lens and expert lighting—are employed in this jarring book of portraits of orangutans. The description states that “genetic testing revealed an almost 97 percent DNA overlap between orangutans and humans…,” but we already can feel that just by looking at these portraits. What I love about this is that the photographer knows that orangutans are so close to us and treats them with the respect and deference they deserve. The photographer’s (and our) reward is a visual conversation with these “people.” Looking into their eyes and reading into their expressions, we’re extended an even more urgent plea for restoring their homelands.

  • Date of Photograph
  • Technical Info
    Nikon D850, Profoto strobes, Stella Lights, ThinkTank camera bags

The People of the Forest focuses on orangutans, because, while the future for many species is uncertain, orangutans in the wild are hanging on by a particularly thin vine. Their populations have declined significantly due to habitat destruction in their native Sumatra and Borneo where forests give way to palm oil plantations. Long before genetic testing revealed an almost 97 percent DNA overlap between orangutans and humans, the similarities between the two species was noticed. “Orangutan” comes from the Malay word orang (people) and hutan (forest), hence the title for this book.

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