Are we all about pretty pictures? This is a question that has been asked many times and in many forums to define the work that conservation photographers do. The real question however, is, do we want to focus on inspiring people, or do we aim to shock them?
There is a constant tension in finding the right balance between images that seduce and move and those that horrify. I believe that finding the right mix means the difference between entertaining people and moving them to action.
A carefully edited mix of images, woven into a compelling story, can show both the beauty of what we stand to lose as well as the devastation that our planet’s ecosystems are enduring all around the world. Most importantly, if we do our jobs right, photography can help us connect the dots to show the impacts that this loss has on human societies, and especially on the most vulnerable among us.
The ways in which the iLCP membership continues to expand and evolve, is a clear reflection of this philosophy. Although we will always need to rely on beautiful imagery to win and maintain the attention of our audience, we are also committed to working with photographers who focus their efforts on serious photojournalism. Perhaps the most important aspect of our work, is that regardless of whether images are beautiful or disturbing, they should be truthful and compelling. Our most valuable currency continues to be credibility; the perception by the public that what we are showing is a true reflection of reality.
Creating beautiful images that depict some of the most devastating and tragic losses our planet’s ecosystems are suffering is the ideal that compels the work of conservation photographers; succeeding in propelling law-makers, donors, government officials, corporations and society at large, is our ultimate mission.
Drawing form 36 years of international travel, Art will delve into a vast range of subjects; from discovering the subject to elements of design and even new works such as time lapses. Imagery of nature, wildlife and the world’s varied landscapes will round out the curriculum to provide the most comprehensive and imaginitave class available. For more information visit our workshop website. Don’t delay, our first two events in Toronto, Canada – May 20 and New York, NY – May 22 are filling fast.
These photos are from two extended walks that I lead our group on throughout the city of Hanoi. They are representational of a constant theme that I am teaching my travel companions – how to create intriguing compositions out of everyday life events. In this series of photographs you will see everything from the frantic traffic to the very quiet and peaceful details. Enjoy.
This, the first series of images in a new section on our blog, involves Kazakh eagle hunters in western Mongolia.
These are a very strong people that have a strong sense of culture. One of those cultural icons is hunting with eagles. I wanted to get a shot that really conveys the sense of spacious land in Mongolia, the power of the eagle, and the traditional dress that seems to be seen less and less in the historical cultures of the world today. This first photo basically establishes where we are – two eagle hunters, a horse, and the eagle traversing an open slope on the border of western Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
In this second photo you actually see how close I am to my subjects. I am using my Canon 1Ds Mark III camera with a 16-35 wide angle zoom lens, which allows me to include a strong foreground subject (the hunters) as well as the dramatic sky in the distance. Also note that the light looks a bit flat in this shot, but from the viewpoint from which I am taking the photo things look completely different.
In my third image, which is at a right angle to the direction of the sun, I have attached a polarizer to my wide angle. You can see how much more dramatic the light appears. This image also highlights the problems of working with dramatic light – very harsh shadows were cast every time the eagle moved its wings.
The wing of the eagle is now down, but the man that’s controlling the eagle is casting a shadow on his assistant.
I decided to get lower and shoot upwards to bring in some of the openness of the sky in hopes of creating more of a story than in the previous shots.
The result is that I don’t have nearly the problems of the previous images with the shadows. This is a very satisfying image to me, but in an effort to see what else is achievable, I begin working the scene a bit more.
I’m standing at eye level again with the hunters, but the problem with this shot is that the man closet to me is staring straight at me. I try to maintain a little anonymity when I am taking pictures, and would prefer that the subject is not staring straight into my camera.
I ask him to look straight ahead, but now with movement of doing so, the eagle is staring straight at me. This isn’t necessarily a bad composition, but I would prefer the eagle in a different position.
I move a little bit further around and discover I love the way the light is falling across the main eagle hunter and his beautiful fox fur hat. However, as you can see, I have moved in too close to get all three in the frame.
I decide to back off a little bit, and now I am getting what I am looking for. I love the fact that the man in the middle is kind of looking my way, the assistant is looking off to his left, and the eagle is conversely looking off in the opposite direction. There is a nice balance to this image, with no shadows on their faces. In addition, the eagle has nice light on his eye. This to me is a winner.
I also like this last photo because it has a nice sense to it; the eagle is looking further opposite now, and is even more absorbed in what is going on in the landscape, rather than in what the photographer is busy trying to achieve. Both of these final two images are very strong photos for me, and I am very happy with the results:
good balance of compositon, dramatic light, openness of the land, traditional wardrobes – it all comes together in a very nice way in these last two images.