Thank you for visiting my new website!
I am very excited about the new site — it has been many months in development but the final result is fantastic! I am very grateful to the team at b:web — Zoe, Christina and Richard — who have done such a terrific job.
You will have noticed that the strapline of my site is “Creating beauty in a fragile world”. The phrase captures a lot of what makes me passionate about photography and I thought it would be a good introduction to the new site if I told you a bit about it and how it manifests in some of the pictures that feature on the site.
The fragility of the world is something a wildlife photographer is acutely aware of. Many animal (and plant) species have already been lost or are on the verge of extinction, and several ecosystems are hanging in the balance as a result of global warming, the increasing human population, the inability of humans to take care of the natural environment, and other factors. In his book On This Earth, Nick Brandt (one of the greatest wildlife photographers of our time) writes that his images are an elegy “to these beautiful [large mammals of East Africa], to this wrenchingly beautiful world that is steadily, tragically vanishing before our eyes.” It is one of the greatest causes of sorrow and outrage to me to think of all the magnificent elephants and rhinos that are poached every day to supply unnecessary ornamentation and concoctions of no medicinal value in the markets of Asia and elsewhere.
Landscape photographers face similar issues. For example, parts of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland are under threat of disappearing into the ocean as a result of global warming, and closer to my current home the ancient oak woodland is under threat from an insidious disease called Acute Oak Decline, which some fear will eventually have the same devastating effect as Dutch Elm Disease. The beautiful landscapes that we take for granted now might no longer be there for our children’s children to enjoy.
Unfortunately the good intentions of well-wishers sometimes also has undesirable consequences: the Kruger National Park in South Africa has about 19,000 elephants at the moment but it can only support about half that number. However, Park officials are threatened with boycotts by American tour operators if they cull any of the animals. Consequently the over-large elephant population wreaks havoc in the Park, destroying the sensitive habitats of many smaller creatures.
It is not only nature that feels the pressure, though: human societies also face change on a constant basis, and not all of it good. Travel photography brings us closer to places and cultures we might never otherwise encounter and show us the interesting, the good, the bad and occasionally the bizarre elements of what is foreign to us. It can give us a snapshot in time or a view over time. So, for example, change is expected in Cuba — a complex case; and one hears of Venice as of an ancient relative of whom one fears the worst every time there is news (a group of eminent photographers including Hiroshi Watanabe and Nan Goldin recently reminded us of Venecia Auténtica’s perilous existence).
So where does photography fit into this picture? To my mind photography has a two-fold purpose: (1) to record some of these wildlife and landscapes in works of art, and (2) by virtue of creating beauty in this way to raise awareness of what will be lost if it is not proactively preserved. That is my passion and my mission as a photographer, which I hope to share with you through my pictures, workshops and safaris. Photography can be a call to action: to learn more about ourselves, how the rest of the world lives, how to protect our environment. But above all, to add to the beauty in the world, not subtract from it.