Photography for conservation
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Who this event is for
JHB 208 Chakrabarti Room, John Henry Brookes, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site
Since I first picked up a proper camera in 2005, I have been exceedingly lucky in finding myself surrounded by some of this planet's most charismatic and awe-inspiring wildlife. The first job I did that involved capturing light was the creation of a photo-ID catalogue of the bottlenose dolphins of Cardigan Bay. While this project was based more in scientific research than in the production of emotive imagery, it nevertheless opened my eyes to the power that a camera can have when the magic combination of light, subject and timing come together. It was in that summer that I realised that the path of wildlife photography was the one for me, and I set out to make it my career.
Through contacts at Oxford Brookes University, I have spent much of the past two years documenting the plight of some key species: everything from slow lorises and crested macaques to orangutans and mountain gorillas. I see myself now more as a conservation photographer than purely a wildlife photographer, as I feel that the images I capture should be used to help ensure my subjects' survival in their fragile environments. I believe that to really make a difference it is important not only to capture the character and spirit of the animals in their natural setting, but also to push myself and my camera into the places that I would usually avoid to show the darker side of their story. I have photographed pet and meat markets that trade in endangered wildlife and seen some extraordinary and painful examples of suffering, but I feel that it is important to tell the whole story. There is no sense in just pointing my lenses at the beautiful sights in front of me, if behind me that same beauty is being systematically destroyed by our careless exploitation.
The tricky part is getting the balance right, and this is something I am still working on. I hope that my images will inspire people to care about something they may never see with their own eyes, as it is only then that we can start to make a real change.