Informing contexts, week 7 – responses and responsiblities


The  presentation on the work of Sebastião Salgado and Nick Brandt invited us to decide which of those photographer’s contrasting approaches was most effective in creating awareness of environmental issues. In my own view, the two approaches are complementary – the beauty of Salgado’s celebratory images in “Genesis” show us what we stand to lose; Nick Brandt’s panoramic tableaux in his series “Inherit the Dust” illustrate in apocalyptic terms what the world has already lost through human depredations.

I have been looking at a number of portfolios submitted for the annual Prix Pictet    which seeks to harness the power of the photographic image to draw attention to issues concerning the environment and sustainability. The judges include Sebastião Salgado. The image below by Munem Wasif, shortlisted for the 2008 prize,  powerfully illustrates the effects of coastal erosion in Bangladesh.




Living on the West Sussex coast, I am all too aware of the consequences of rising sea levels. The Environment Agency and the local authority have effectively abandoned protection of the shoreline at Climping, barely a mile from my property. The effect of this decision has been that over two winters the concrete sea defences have collapsed and doubtless the farmland which they protected will soon be under water for much of the year.

Perhaps inspired by Wasif’s image, I have recently photographed the current state of the sea defences (see images below) and will continue to document the the destruction of this stretch of England’s coastline:


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