For years, Jacek Kusz found his mind was elsewhere: in his past, reminiscing; or in the future, planning his next project. Until, that is, a sickly monkey changed his perspective.
The ecology photographer, whose series on Wroclaw Zoo in the south-west of his native Poland is shortlisted at this year's Sony World Photography Awards, spent hours watching that particular primate grooming, playing and living in the moment. "She was the most joyous animal I'd ever seen," he says, "and it occurred to me that I wasn't as able to focus on the present as she was, and her life was the better for it."
With the series, Kusz hopes to show these animals in human terms, as equals to mankind. "Our lives are saturated with a sense of superiority over the rest of the primates," he explains, "but I do not share this view." The portraits seen here (see gallery above), such as the crested black macaque staring moodily at the lens, and the pensive Mona monkey, are thus shot in a style more associated with human portraiture. And the effect is startling, right down to the pose of the Diana monkey, the vulnerable, doe-eyed look, shot to help us see "just how similar these monkeys are to the human race".
The Sony World Photography Awards 2012 take place in London on 26 April. Kusz's images will be displayed alongside other entrants at an exhibition in Somerset House, London WC2, from 27 April to 20 May. For more, visit worldphoto.org