Interview - How to... photograph colobus monkey

Interviews

The Zanzibar red colobus is one of the world’s rarest monkeys, but Stefano was still able to get great close shots of these beautiful animals.

 

The red colobus is confined to a small area of forest in the middle of Zanzibar called Jozani Reserve, which is easy to get to on reasonable roads. My guide Hagi helped me find the monkeys each day. They are pretty much habituated to people because they are visited by tourists on a regular basis and so it is easy to approach very close, but I made sure I kept at least 5 metres away from them as much as possible. Sometimes, when they were feeding on the ground, one individual might come as close as 1 or 2 metres.

My technique for getting the shots was to sit down and wait for the animals to behave naturally – I find that’s always the best method. The shot of the colobus leaping down at the camera (above) was taken when I was trying to get some photos of them play-fighting. Suddenly, one of the youngsters looked at me, possibly attracted by the reflection in the lens, and jumped down towards the camera, trying to touch it. I only had one chance to get the shot – and luckily I got it. It was a wonderful place to work – I was out in the forest each morning and then again in the evenings. The rest of the time, I could just relax on Zanzibar’s amazing beaches.

I used a Nikon F5 with 17-35mm and 300mm lenses and flash. The film was Fuji Provia F.