Let me say first that I grew up in Manhattan and lived there till I was about 30-years-old. Which is to say, this look if very familiar. The crossed arms. The look of disdain bordering on anger. And that’s why I’m drawn to this image – I feel at home. I captured this image a little more than a year ago in Rwanda. But, if I’m being completely honest, I feel like I’ve been looking at this image all my life.

Mountain gorillas live in relatively small family groups, and the Rwandan authorities limit the number of tourists who can visit any given gorilla family to eight people per day. And then, for only one hour. Combine that with the fact that, inside Rwanda, there are ten gorilla families that have been habituated to being visited by people, that translates to a maximum of 80 tourists per day visiting gorillas. Hence the need to buy a permit for your selected days months in advance.

I was traveling with friends Larry & Jerri and thanks to Jerri’s experience and marvelous organization skills, we had everything we needed, from gators to protect us from the mud to gloves to protect us from the bramble to the required permits – for two days of gorilla trekking.

The second day is, I hate to say it, better than the first. Everything is new that first day – the adrenaline is running and the hour you get to spend with the gorillas passes as if five minutes. Day Two, things begin to slow down and I had a chance to appreciate the interactions without my heart thumping. I can only imagine what a Day Three or Four must have been like.

On this particular day, we trekked through mud and bramble to visit a popular family of gorillas. Jerri had lobbied hard at the base station to make sure we were the lucky few who would visit this family on this particular day and her efforts paid off.

Three hours trek and we made it to the general area where the gorilla family was foraging. Jerri stood to my left as the last person in a line of six humans clicking away – all within five feet of the gorillas and sometimes closer. A juvenile gorilla climbed up a nimble stalk and as he got to the top, the stalk gave way under the weight of the young gorilla who couldn’t have weighed more than 30-40 pounds.

The stalk broke at the base, the rest of it holding firm, the young gorilla holding on tight at the top. Imagine a 10 foot stick falling to the ground and that’s what happened. Only this stick had a gorilla at the top of it. And this stick fell directly toward Jerri, missing her by not more than a few inches. The result was a juvenile gorilla inches from Jerri’s feet. The two looked at each other, Jerri smiled, and I glanced over at the Silverback. He didn’t seem to be bothered. And just as quick the young gorilla scampered off.

Nearly an hour later, Jerri was crouched down when an even younger gorilla came up behind her and began playing with her straight blond hair. Jerri turned slowly and the two just stared at each other, face to face, maybe three inches apart from one another.

Again, I looked at the Silverback and that’s when I captured this image.

There is so much humanity in this gorilla’s pose. That’s what I love about it.

Or maybe, just maybe, it reminds me of someone I know. My father perhaps. Or myself when I’m having a moment of frustration with my kids. Therapist anyone?

As a photograph, there’s a lot for me to like in here. The framing for starters – nothing is wasted. As a reminder, what you see here is what I saw in the lens. I have taken thousands upon thousands of pictures and can count on one hand the number of images I’ve cropped in post production. In fact, I think there’s really just one. This image is exactly as I framed it in the camera.

There’s just enough bramble in the foreground to help give a sense of the setting and enough head space at the top so we don’t feel jammed in. The eyes grab us and everything begins to fill in around that. I love the turn of the mouth, the crossed arms. And I appreciate the full range of textures of different shades of black and gray.

As a photographer in love with B&W, nothing thrills more than an image which lets you show off the full range of tone and texture. And all of that combined is why I am so drawn to this image.