May 14

To celebrate the launch of the inaugural Wildscreen Photo Story Panda Award at this year’s Wildscreen Festival, Arkive is getting to know the award’s amazing jury, who are themselves international photography professionals. Here we meet Peter Cairns.

 

Peter Cairns

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I spent my childhood in the English Midlands, but I’ve been based in the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands for over 20 years now.

I’ve been a freelance nature and conservation photographer since 2000 and am a founding director of The Wild Media Foundation, a social enterprise that generates conservation media through projects such as Tooth & Claw, Highland Tiger, Wild Wonders of Europe and 2020VISION.

In 2015, I founded SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, a company dedicated to producing compelling visual media that promotes the benefits of a wilder Scotland.

I am also Board Member of Scottish rewilding charity Trees for Life, and a Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

 

View over Glen Einich in late summer, Scotland | © Peter Cairns

What was your exposure to photography growing up?

Very little until my early adult life. My Grandad was a keen photographer but I took little interest until my mid-twenties. He did however, instil in me a passion for birds and when that resurfaced in later life, it provided the catalyst for my early attempts at wildlife photography.

Black grouse (Tetrao tetrix), Scotland | © Peter Cairns

What in your opinion makes a good photo story?

There’s a word that I use a lot in evaluating stories I document myself and those covered by others: Compelling. Is this story compelling?  Does it captivate my interest and perhaps more importantly, does it move me? Our job as conservation photographers is firstly to inform. If we can then inspire, that’s a bonus. The Holy Grail however, is to influence. If a story influences a change in mindset or motivates an action, it’s been successful.

Do you have any memorable photo stories of your own?

I tend to forget pretty much everything I’ve done as soon as I’ve done it! I’m not one for dwelling too long on the success, or otherwise, of my own work. There’s always so much more to do. That said, certain stories do have a habit of bouncing back to life years ahead and that is true of some work I did on Scottish wildcats which is still doing the rounds ten years after the images were taken.

Scottish wildcat (Felis sylvestris) stalking along track in pine forest, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland | © Peter Cairns

You’re Project Director of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, why is rewilding important to you and Scotland as whole? And how do you best communicate your rewilding vision to a wider audience?

Most of the projects I’ve been involved with over the years, and the lessons learned from them, have culminated in SCOTLAND: The Big Picture. In some ways it brings me back to working very close to home where I know the lie of the land physically, culturally and politically. It’s important to understand the context of a story to tell it effectively.

Despite notable conservation success stories, Britain is one of the most ecologically depleted nations on Earth. All of our large carnivores have gone. Most of our large herbivores have gone and across huge areas of Scotland the land is degraded and pretty much devoid of life. Rewilding offers an opportunity to revitalise vast landscapes and to restore the natural processes that sustain all life.  This cannot and should not be achieved at the expense of people but to the benefit of people. In terms of communicating what is quite a complex message, we tend to tease out individual stories within the wider story, using species like red squirrels or ospreys as “ambassadors” of the wider rewilding narrative.

There’s no silver bullet at work here. It takes time to change people’s belief systems and we’re on that journey of change. Every now and then we see a glimpse of success – from someone reading our books or attending a presentation perhaps -and that spurs us on. Visual storytelling does make a difference.

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) on the edge of a woodland pool, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland |             © Peter Cairns

You are on the jury for Wildscreen’s inaugural Photo Story Panda Award. Why do you feel it’s important that Wildscreen is including stills photography within the Panda Awards and the Wildscreen Festival?

When I look back over the last 20 years, there are images that are seared onto my mind. They made me think differently and act differently.  I want as many people as possible to see compelling images created by talented photographers and to feel differently as a result. Wildscreen is providing the mechanism for that to happen and I’m delighted to be part of it.

If you could give 18 year old you one piece of advice for building a career in photography, what would it be?

Think hard before you jump – you need to be financially sustainable to enable your voice to be heard – that’s not easy these days. Let your head rule your heart, not the other way around.

Secondly, build relationships – they will become your greatest asset. There, that’s two bits of advice!

______________

Thanks to Peter for talking to us, and we look forward to seeing him and the fantastic array of submissions at the Wildscreen Festival 2018!

You can find Peter on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, or visit his website petercairnsphotography.com

Revisit the Arkive blog soon to meet the rest of the Wildscreen Photo Story Panda Award jury.

May 8

For the first time in its 36 year history, the 2018 Wildscreen Panda Awards, widely regarded as the most prestigious accolade in the wildlife film and TV genre, will recognise the craft of wildlife photography, with the introduction of the Wildscreen Photo Story Panda Award.

The Panda Awards ceremony is the flagship event of the Wildscreen Festival, the world’s biggest global gathering and celebration of screen-based natural history storytelling. The photo award is being launched to further cement the conservation charity’s commitment to and belief in photography as a powerful and impactful tool for raising awareness about and protecting the natural world across society.  It will celebrate and recognise the very best in photographic narrative, uniting it alongside the world’s very best natural world film talent.

© Neil Aldridge

Announcing the award, Wildscreen’s Director, Lucie Muir, said: “ As we approach CBD 2020, in Beijing, it is essential for the future of our planet that everyone understands the critical importance of biodiversity and the responsibility we all have to protect it. Therefore, there is no better time for Wildscreen to recognise the craft of wildlife and environmental photographers in telling nature’s stories, side by side and united with the world’s best filmmakers. Our community of talented storytelling professionals are transforming the way people see and understand nature, they are our eyes on our natural world and a voice for those that cannot speak, and it’s our role to celebrate and thank them.”

Jury Chair, Sophie Stafford, said: “Storytelling has been part of the fabric of society since the dawn of human language, but in a world addicted to instant gratification it’s a skill that is being lost. Sadly, there’s never been a time it was needed more. As pressures on the natural world become ever more intense, there is no better time to launch a photo award to showcase the most important and compelling wildlife stories of our time. This new Panda Award will reward dedicated photographers for committing the time and resources required to shoot a well-rounded story, and highlight the beauty of our planet and the challenges it faces.

 

CALL FOR ENTRIES

Entrants have between the 18 April to 8 June 2018 to submit photo stories comprising of between six to ten images that have an aspect of the natural world as a central focus, with a clear and powerful narrative weaved between the images.

The competition is open to professional and amateur photographers worldwide, over 18 years. The judges will also be looking for exceptional emerging talent photographers, under the age of 30, which will be considered for an ‘Emerging Talent Photo Story Panda Award’.

© Neil Aldridge

Entries can be made via the online submission portal on the Wildscreen website, available at: www.wildscreen.org/panda-awards

 

Judges

The inaugural competition will be judged by a stellar panel of international photography professionals, including –  Kathy Moran (USA), Senior Editor (Natural History), National Geographic Magazine; Britta Jaschinski (Germany/UK) photojournalist and co-founder of Photographers Against Wildlife Crime; Peter Cairns (UK) nature and conservation photographer and founding director of The Wild Media Foundation and Jasper Doest (Netherlands) conservation photographer.

The jury will be chaired by wildlife magazine editor and seasoned international photography competition judge Sophie Stafford (UK) and award-wining conservation photographer Neil Aldridge, winner of the World Press Photo 2018 Environment category, as the competitions’ technical consultant.

© Britta Jaschinski

 

Prizes

Three nominees will be announced in August with the overall winner revealed at the Wildscreen Panda Awards ceremony on Friday 19 October 2019. Each of the nominated photo stories will be featured in a large-scale outdoor photography exhibition in central Bristol, UK, in October 2018, reaching a public audience of over 45,000. Nominees will also be invited to present their work during the internationally-renowned Wildscreen Festival programme, as part of its unrivalled line-up of industry leaders.

Wildscreen Festival

The Wildscreen Panda Awards, nicknamed the ‘Green Oscars’, have sat at the heart of the Wildscreen Festival since it was founded in 1982. Taking place every two years, over 900 filmmakers, photographers and broadcasters from over 40 countries, convene in Bristol, UK for one week to do business, collaborate and celebrate the nature storytelling genre.

The Wildscreen Festival 2018 takes place from October 15 to 19 and will deliver an unrivalled programme of film screenings, keynotes, masterclasses and networking.

Apr 19

Yesterday Google introduced a brand-new version of Google Earth—on the web and Android. Joining up with some of the world’s leading storytellers, scientists and non-profits and after two years in the making, planet earth has been brought to life with Voyager, a showcase of interactive guided tours.

Wildscreen is thrilled to announce that it too is part of the journey, sharing stories of hundreds of endangered animals both on land and in our oceans, through a new breathtaking Arkive layer.

Arkive layer on Google Earth

Through Voyager, Arkive – the world’s leading online encyclopaedia about the natural world – is brought to life. Each placemark contains an amazing photo of the species, along with key information about its biology, where it is found and what threats it faces.

Lucie Muir, Wildscreen CEO said: “At Wildscreen we believe that visual storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have to share the beauty, but most importantly, the fragility of our natural world. Through our partnership with Google Earth we are now able to share the stories of hundreds of species with millions of people around the world, immersing them in nature and inspiring them to do something to help.

Not only can explorers discover hundreds of weird and wonderful species and where they live but they can also dive in deeper by continuing their journey on the Arkive website itself. Arkive (www.arkive.org) is packed full with over 16,000 in-depth species fact files, illustrated with over 100,000 of the best wildlife films and photos, contributed by more than 7,500 of the world’s leading filmmakers, photographers and scientists. There’s also curriculum-linked education resources, activities and topic pages exploring some of the key conservation issues facing the world’s wild things and wild places.

Go explore the wild here.

 

Apr 14

This week Arkive has been celebrating the US premiere of the environmental documentary Tomorrow, (Demain le Film). We’ve been featuring a guest blogs throughout the week, with documentary contributors discussing the global issues featured in Tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s US premier is in San Francisco TODAY! 14th April 2017. Find the Tomorrow Facebook or visit the website for a full run-down and trailer.

“Without question, this is absolutely the best and most creative film on the future of humanity and the environment.” – Paul Hawken, leading environmentalist

Tomorrow trailer

Tomorrow trailer

Who are you?

Cyril Dion. Almost 39. French. Married with two kids. I’m a filmmaker, writer, poet and ecological activist.

I also wrote and co-directed Tomorrow, it is my baby! It took me five years to make this project a reality, and I never thought it would take me to 17 countries and more than 120 cities.

I have always tried to find ways to express myself artistically and to be as useful as possible to people and the planet. First, I was an actor, then I studied and practiced natural medicine. I organised Israeli-Palestinian congresses including the very first two world congress of Imams and Rabbis for peace. I co-founded and directed an ecological NGO for seven years, created and ran a magazine, wrote three books, and now directed a movie.

Problems facing your field of expertise from an environmental/sustainability perspective?

Basically, a part of humanity could disappear by the end of the century if we keep on living as we do, especially in the western world. A few years ago, a study conducted by one of NASA’s lab showed that civilisations usually collapse when two factors combine: when we destroy natural resources faster than they can restore themselves, and when social inequality become unbearable.

We currently experience both problems. Unfortunately, this study is not the only one. Hundreds of them have been published all around the world warning us of the dangers of climate change, mass extinction of species, pollution, exploitation of people and nature.

Climate change effects include sea levels getting higher, ice melting at the poles, and extreme weather events like hurricanes and droughts becoming more common. Many animals are also struggling to survive as their habitats change.

If the current rate of deforestation continues, it is thought that the world’s forests will be gone in just 100 years.

Do you have any suggested solutions to the problems Tomorrow confronts?

I can build on what I have learned while travelling the world for the film. We need to shift from a material-oriented society where making money, buying stuff and creating economic growth is the main goal, to a world where we are living meaningful lives; being in harmony with nature and with each other is our priority. The good news, is that we have the know-how to gather everything we need: food, shelter, healthcare, money, great job, and community we can rely on.

One particularly interesting way could be to replicate what nature does and adapt it to our human organisations: circular processes, efficiency in networks, creating no waste, restoration abilities, nurture a very high level of diversity. Diversity is the key, if you have a forest with only one type of tree, when disease strikes, the whole forest is gone. But if you have different type of trees, some variety will resist more than others and the ecosystem has much better chances of surviving. It is what we call resilience.

Concretely, this means that we must not encourage monocultures, whether it is in agriculture (growing only one kind of crop on huge fields), in economy (having just a few big businesses trusting the all world with their food, clothes, furniture and so on), in energy (relying on fossil fuels), etc. It is too fragile.

We need to develop greater autonomy and diversity everywhere: organic food systems, local renewable energy, strong local economies with a lot of diverse independent businesses and to link all these territories to each other to have millions of local, ecological, economies interconnected.

Cyril has presented Tomorrow across the globe, including screenings at screened at the UN in NYC and at the European Parliament, during the COP21 in Paris.

Please describe your personal feelings on the importance of conveying Tomorrows message, and what impact you hope for it to have upon its audience?

We may face the biggest challenge human race has ever experienced. So, to me, nothing could be more important than empowering people to fix our ecological, social and economic problems! To do so, we tried to do something different from scary, depressing, and catastrophic documentaries pointing fingers at culprits.

I think Tomorrow is the first 100% solution-oriented documentary about ecology, economy, education, democracy… It carries another vision for the future. It is also trying to tell a story, our story: young parents preoccupied by the future of their children, trying to find new ways to make the world a better place. We wanted the movie to be pedagogical but as the same time moving and pleasant to watch with a lot of music, nice photography.

It has been released in more than 20 countries already and had a lot of impact in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada where it has been seen by almost two million people… It’s been screened at the UN in NYC, at the European Parliament, during the COP21 in Paris.

We continuously receive hundreds of messages of women and men telling us what they’ve been doing after seeing the movie. We even opened a section on the French website called « the day after tomorrow » to collect these stories and actions. People start permaculture gardens, change their electricity supplier, move their money to local or ethical banks, start new jobs to be useful to their community or to the planet, some businesses are being launched, some local governments are taking actions… It would take a book to tell everything! So I hope it will happen in the US also.

 Final words to convey to the audience?

Just that we have the power to change the world if we want to.

You can follow Cyril and his work on Twitter, Facebook or on his website. All that’s left now is to say thank you to Cyril and the many other who worked tirelessly on Tomorrow to share with us a message which many would consider the most urgent problems facing our planet to date. We hope you all go out and watch it!

Apr 13

This week Arkive is celebrating the US premiere of the environmental documentary Tomorrow, (Demain le Film). We’ll be featuring a guest blog each day this week, with documentary contributors discussing the global issues featured in Tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s US premiere is in San Francisco this Friday, 14th April 2017. Find the Tomorrow Facebook or visit the website for a full run-down and trailer.

“Without question, this is absolutely the best and most creative film on the future of humanity and the environment.” – Paul Hawken, leading environmentalist

Tomorrow trailer

Tomorrow trailer

Who are you?

My name is Robert Reed. I am a spokesman for Recology, San Francisco’s recycling and kerb side composting collection company. I am a writer and an advocate for zero waste, and former journalist. I am very enthusiastic about recycling and particularly about urban compost collection programs.

What is your field of research?

I do a lot of research. Much of my focus centres on urban compost collection programmes. That means collecting food scraps and plant cuttings separately from other trash, turning this organic matter into finished compost, and using it to feed microbial colonies in topsoil to grow cover crops that fix carbon and nitrogen in the soil. I believe this is our best chance to slow down climate change.

Robert and part of his team at Recology

Please could you describe your connection with Tomorrow?

The filmmakers contacted me and asked me to tour them through our recycling and compost programs. They decided to feature me as one of the citizens in the film who are engaged in programmes that help achieve environmental/social benefits.

The film Tomorrow is a great achievement because, unlike other documentaries, it focuses almost exclusively on solutions. The world is hungry for positive narratives and this film is central to a new movement to highlight solutions. For these reasons and more I am very enthusiastic about Tomorrow.

Problems facing your field of expertise from a sustainability perspective?

First problem: More than half of the trash in the world is incinerated. Another big portion is buried in landfills. This destroys resources. The U.S. is home to 3,000 active landfills, but less than 300 facilities that are permitted to compost food scraps. So we have in infrastructure problem. Many cities and universities want to replicate San Francisco’s urban compost collection programme but they can’t because we don’t have enough compost facilities.

Many wildlife species are forced to move from their habitats due to the increase of human impact, many try to adjust to but often die in the process, where it is more and more common for birds to be found having ingested plastic bags, bottle caps, synthetic clothing fibres.

Second problem: We need collectively to shine a bright light on the compost solution – cities sending food scraps to farms in the form of compost and farms using that compost to grow cover crops. This combination turns farms into carbon sinks. I believe doing so is our best chance to try to slow down climate change. I have very experienced and skilled friends and acquaintances who believe this solution is so effective that if implemented widely it could reverse climate change.

Do you have any suggested solutions to the problems Tomorrow confronts?

I try to live by example. When Trump was elected I made a personal commitment to do an additional 12 days a year of community service. The solutions almost never come from large governments or corporations. They are making money off they current structure and, therefore, resist change. I, and countless others support the approach of local solutions. A city makes a zero waste goal. A nearby city also makes a zero waste goal, and many others do they same. Then they form a union. They link. That is how you build a movement. That is how you achieve positive change that benefits all.

Tomorrow shows many examples of how this can happen, of how we can create a healthier world.

It is not a question of ‘can we do it?’ it’s an ‘I’m-paying-attention, eyes-wide-open’ perspective. If you are open and honest you know this – we have to do right by the planet and society. It is the only choice.

Please describe your personal feelings on the importance of conveying Tomorrow’s message, and what impact you hope for it to have upon its audience?

The larger message of this documentary – that solutions exist, that we can create a healthier world is tremendously important. Please take a friend to see this film.

The people who made this film worked extraordinarily hard. They had a small budget and impossibly tight schedule. On the morning I met them they were exhausted. But when asked to get up and do more they did exactly that. They suffered so we could have the opportunity to watch this film. Watch it!

 Thank you, Robert, for speaking to us. We’d like to heed his words and say, go watch it!

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