With "Survivors" (1991), I developed a new approach to photographing endangered wild animals. I tried to change people's perception of them by altering the context in which they were viewed. I emphasized their vulnerability by photographing them against sterile, white, non-natural backdrops, rather than comfortable and safe in their natural habitat.⠀ ⠀ Since I took this photo, the world's giant panda population has fortunately begun to rebound. Once classified as "endangered", they're now classified as "vulnerable" by the #internationalunionforconservationofnature. Even so, only 1,800 pandas live in the wild. And there are more tigers captive in American homes than there are ...
1K likes / 15 comments / 7 days ago
In recent years, a vast range of solutions to climate change have surfaced. Unfortunately, these policies and technologies have far outpaced public opinion. ⠀ ⠀ There are myriad reasons for this stasis. Many people do not physically see or experience climate change. Powerful interests in industry, politics and finance want to maintain the status quo and cast doubt on the well-quantified knowledge of science. Media treatment of climate change can be muddled, or not as compelling as it needs to be to get people’s attention. Built into our human minds and social systems is a fundamental resistance to new information, ...
874 likes / 30 comments / 10 days ago
To show the human impact of our altered air, we visited an elementary school at National Jewish Health in Denver for children with chronic asthma. Many of these kids need to stop by the nurses’ office five times a day to get their medication. The air they breathe every day in North Denver and surrounding neighborhoods is making them sicker.⠀ ⠀ Historic carbon dioxide levels and other greenhouse gas statistics often do not resonate with the general public. My photographs of those kids show people what polluting our air supply actually means.⠀ ⠀ #nikonambassador @TheHumanElementMovie
1K likes / 23 comments / 14 days ago
Early in my career, as an avid mountaineer and technical climber, I simply wanted to take gorgeous pictures: wild flowers, waterfalls, towering peaks, glorious sunsets. Then, I started learning about what museum director Cornell Capa called the “concerned photographer,” a humanistic focus that was usually about war, famine, poverty, and the disadvantaged. Though Cornell was my friend and mentor, it dawned on me that the human-centered approach entirely missed the ever-expanding conflict between people and nature. And that conflict became the core of my life’s work.⠀ ⠀ #nikonambassador
708 likes / 11 comments / 17 days ago
In @TheHumanElementMovie, my team and I visualized the finite thinness of our layer of air by mounting a camera on a weather balloon. The balloon popped at just 99,000 feet in elevation. Between the ground and that elevation, around the globe, is how much air we have. We do not get any more. That footage gives a visceral sense of just how shockingly thin our precious envelope of air is.
1K likes / 23 comments / 21 days ago
Many people do not see the urgency of climate change because they do not physically see it at all. Take air. Even though we cannot see it, air is a tangible, physical substance. It weighs 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level. It has weight and mass and volume. Most of the time we are utterly unaware of it, unconscious that two lungs’ worth of air every 3.75 seconds is keeping us alive. But if we could really see air – see it in all its physicality and see it changing – we would make far more progress on ...
606 likes / 4 comments / 24 days ago
A beautiful tree near @Stanford, where we recently screened @TheHumanElementMovie.
1K likes / 15 comments / 28 days ago
In my work with chimpanzees, Anima (1993), I drew on insights from a variety of fields, including visual arts, environmental philosophy and Jungian psychology, to imagine a healthier, more integrated relationship between humans and nature.
768 likes / 9 comments / 1 months ago
One of the secrets of photography and filmmaking is that people really want their stories to be told. I’ve seen this for decades working on hurricanes and volcanoes and floods, and the tsunami in Indonesia. People want a witness to be there to say, “Here, this is what happened. This is the truth.”⠀ ⠀ But besides human voices, I try to capture nature’s voice: nature speaks through major natural events and environmental changes. Pictures give us a way of hearing what it is saying. And unique angles and techniques, like using an infrared heat camera as I did here, can ...
1K likes / 22 comments / 1 months ago
Several decades ago, I thought climate change might be an over-hyped activist cause. Like many people, including much of the scientific community back then, I could not fathom that our species was capable of altering the fundamental operating system of the planet. Only after I learned more, and began seeing massive environmental change with my own eyes and camera, did I comprehend the scale of humanity’s impact on our world. ⠀ ⠀ Humans are not outside nature, or separate from it, as millennia of Western cultural tradition tell us. We are in and of it. We reshape the world—sometimes for ...
1K likes / 10 comments / 1 months ago
With my series "Survivors" (1990), I tried to change people's perception of endangered wildlife by altering the context in which the animals were viewed. I emphasized their vulnerability by photographing them against sterile, white, non-natural backdrops.