Photo District News (PDN) Photo Annual 2014 Contest

There is something profoundly special about an encounter with a wild gorilla. I created this winning series of images while on a journey throughout Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The gorilla families whom I visited contained 29 and 24 members, respectively. Each day, I was allowed only one hour with the highly social, and mobile, diurnal animals. During that timeframe, the gorillas’ unique personality and behavioral traits fascinated me, and I wanted to capture the variety of expressions.  Some gorillas would be docile, others playful, a few curious and several even somewhat aggressive. With such an abundance of activity, it felt possible to get figuratively lost in the moments. At one point, a ranger approached me and whispered in my ear, “Eric, look around you right now. You are completely surrounded by gorillas.” Upon hearing this, all one could do was try to relax, observe and enjoy the enlightening experience.

The PDN winners gallery is here. National Geographic Creative also shared my experience on its website here.