May 18

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 Jasper Doest.

Jasper Doest

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised close to Rotterdam in The Netherlands and that’s where I still live.  I cover nature and conservation stories, always aiming for a creative angle to make an emotional link with my audience.

As a WWF ambassador and a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), my photographs have received multiple awards and appeared in numerous international journals and books, including National Geographic Magazine, GEO and Smithsonian Magazine.

Through my photography I’m able to give a voice to the ones that are often overlooked. As our future is on the line, we need people to start caring about our environment on a daily basis. Photographers can give a voice to the ones who cannot speak for themselves. Photographers can initiate change. That is my motivation and joy. It’s within the power of photography.When I look back at images of my childhood, photography always seemed to play a role in my life. Firstly my dad liked photography, and by the age of four I had my own Kodak Instamatic. However it wasn’t until the age of 20 that I purchased a SLR camera with my first salary, working as a laboratory assistant; I really enjoyed taking photographs, but this first camera soon ended up in the closet. When I decided to continue my studies I took a weekend job in an electronic warehouse, accidentally ending up in the camera department. I had no knowledge about the cameras whatsoever, but decided I needed to acquire some to help people choose the right camera. And from that moment on I was hooked!

My parents raised me with a lot of respect for the natural world. When I started out with my photography I tried many disciplines, but I found most enjoyment when I was working with the natural world. I therefore decided to take a biology degree, to enhance my knowledge about the subjects I was photographing. The study for that degree took me to the Arctic region, where I took an image of two Arctic fox kits that won a major award in the Netherlands. That’s when I decided I had to follow my heart and become a full-time professional, dedicating my time to documenting the utter beauty and fragility of the world that surrounds us. That was ten years ago and that’s what I’m still doing now.

How do you think photo stories with a clear narrative affect audiences compared to single images?

Both have a purpose I think. Within a photographic narrative, there are always a few keystone images that carry the story. These often work quite nicely as strong single images as well. However, I believe a story with a clear visual narrative provides a deeper understanding in the issue. And while a strong single image seems to stick in one’s memory a bit better, it’s often the bigger picture that a narrative story provides that really plants a seed deep in one’s conscience having a long term impact.

This photojournalistic way of storytelling about wild animals and stage we’re in as a planet is relatively new to ‘wildlife photography’ and it comes naturally with the sense of awareness that we’re getting about the planet. We’re finally starting to see the consequences of our behaviour and it is our responsibility as photographers running into these conditions to communicate about this. And there has been some critique on this ‘trend’. I think it is wrong when we start analysing this being a trend and that in the past it was all happiness and now we’re seeing drama entering the wildlife community. It’s not about that at all. Yes, nature is beautiful…and something that should be celebrated, but we have been celebrating the natural world for years and meanwhile we’ve differentiated ourselves from what our ancestors called ‘home’ hundreds of years ago. Many people today don’t seem to realise that nature is our home and something that should be taken care of. And the stories that we see in the photojournalistic categories display why there is an immediate urge for these stories as we are exploiting our planet to a degree where there is no way back. And the consequence would be that there is nothing to celebrate in the future.

Your images are always artistic. Do you plan your narrative and aesthetics of your images/stories before you go into the field?

I do believe the aesthetic part is still very important while building visual narratives as it is the aesthetical part that leads the viewer to the content. One doesn’t go without the other.

There is not a lot of planning involved other than making sure I’m in a place that is an important piece of the puzzle. While there I can only anticipate to what is being offered to me as I’m not in control. And once I get back at the office, the big puzzle begins, trying to build the narrative with the individual pieces and if there are pieces missing I know where to go to try to get them. But the visual approach is not something I plan, I like to just go with the flow.Photography has taken you across the globe, have you stumbled upon any particular stories that you feel aren’t being told? 

There are many stories that deserve being told and that aren’t really getting any attention. But it’s important to find something that really fits with you as an individual. The issue should personally affect you. So sometimes I see a good story but I know it isn’t for me. It’s sad, but I can’t  focus on everything I run into. Fortunately I see more and more photographers working on these important issues.

You spent some time visiting landfill sites across Europe, with some disturbing behaviour changes in white storks. How did that change your approach in conveying human impact to audiences who aren’t particularly exposed to nature or environmental issues?

I finished that work in 2014 and have raised my voice about the (plastic) waste crisis and sustainability ever since. Before that particular story I had the feeling my personal voice and my visual work weren’t running parallel and that story gave my photography a purpose. The images allow me to raise my voice about something I personally care about and fortunately that hasn’t gone unnoticed. The work has been widely published and I have been able to talk about these topics to leaders of industry and national governments in Europe. These platforms allow me to communicate outside the wildlife photography circle, which is very important to me. Not that I don’t enjoy talking to an already converted audience, that’s important too…but it sometimes feels like preaching to the choir, while there is still a lot of work to be done outside that green circle.

Wasteland

Over the past years I’ve spent many weeks on landfill sites and recycling centers in Southern Europe. I was working on a photo story about white storks and noticed large flocks of birds foraging on mountains of municipal waste. A scene I can not explain, but a story with desperate need to be told.Being confronted with the enormous amounts of waste we produce on a daily basis is truly horrifying. Walking through fields of empty bottles, plastic bags, food leftovers and toys still brings me to tears. I lie awake at night, embarrassed to be part of our consumer society. We have to turn the tide. This story is not about storks anymore. It is about us. Look into the mirror and imagine all fables about storks symbolising new life being true. Well…than this is how we threat new life, longevity…our future.We are all connected. The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat unite us in caring for our world. The International League of Conservation Photographers ILCP is dedicated to furthering conservation and the health of nature through photography. We do so by sharing our pictures and stories of what we hold most dear – – our connections to the land, water, wildlife and all of nature.*click on HD for higher quality screening*#1frame4nature #1f4n #challengetochange #sustainability #recycle #notimetowaste #conservation #conservationphotographers #plasticwaste #plastic #wasteland #canonnederland #shareifyoucare

Posted by Jasper Doest on Monday, 6 March 2017

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?

I think it’s time to start looking outside our individual boxes. And while film and stills photography are two completely different languages that allow you to connect with someone’s emotions in a completely different way, it’s good to understand that the two can complement each in the mission of raising awareness for the story topic. We’re all visual storytellers and we need each other. So to me it makes perfect sense that Wildscreen has decided to include stills photography within the Panda Awards and the Wildscreen Festival.

What advice would you give an emerging talent photographer starting out on their journey today?

Try to find something that makes your heart beat faster, a story that really affects you personally. Something that wakes you up at night and is still dominating your thoughts the next morning. If you do so it doesn’t take any effort to walk the extra mile and take your work to the next level.

Lastly, if you had the opportunity to create a photo story of any animal or aspect of life on Earth that you want, what or where would it be and why?

Since working on my latest story I have become extremely fascinated on the human perception of animal life. People are strange…they are the only species I can think of that actually destroys its own habitat. And while I would love to work on any animal in true wilderness, it’s the intersection between humans and the rest of life on Earth that really has my attention as I try to bridge the gap between the two as we have been separating us from the rest of the planet for way too long now.

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Thanks to Jasper for taking the time to share his thoughts. We’re really excited to see him and all the incredible photo stories at the Wildscreen Festival 2018!

You can find Jasper on InstagramTwitter and Facebook, or visit his website jasperdoest.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 27

In this guest blog, wildlife photographer and Wildscreen Exchange contributor Avijan Saha discusses his experience with human-animal conflict in West Bengal, India, where an ancient Asian elephant migratory route has been blocked by a 20-kilometre-long fence, and the implications it has caused for both wildlife and human communities.

My name is Avijan Saha, I am from Siliguri, West Bengal, India. By profession, I am a photographer and since 2008 I have been working in West Bengal on human-elephant conflict issues with forest officials, NGO’s and nature activists. I try to raise awareness with my photographs. I believe that photography is one of the most creative tools to tell a story – one frame at a time.

 

Avijan Saha

The foothills of the Himalayan Mountains are an ancient migratory route for Asian elephants. In this landscape there is plentiful water due to the meeting of various different rivers and their tributaries, providing the elephants with the hydration they need to continue their lengthy journey.

Herd of Asian elephants at Mechi River bed, Indo-Nepal border

Human-elephant conflict in the Darjeeling Terai has a century-old history and was first recorded in 1907 when a herd of at least 30 elephants migrated into Nepal after crossing the rivers Teesta, Mahananda, Balason and Mechi.

The area from the Mechi River to the Sankosh River is divided into two elephant distribution zones extending across 1,659 square kilometres of forest, comprising five protected areas – Buxa Tiger Reserve, Jaldapara and Gorumara National Parks and Chapramari and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuaries. A large part of this area lies between the Torsa River in West Bengal and the Sankosh  River and is referred to as the Eastern Dooars Elephant Reserve (EDER).

Herd of Asian elephants in Kolaveri Forest, India

Crop raiding by elephants turned into a serious issue in the Kurseong forest division in 1980 after a herd of around 60 elephants were chased away from agricultural land into the nearby Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. In 2005, the Forest Department reported that around 70 elephants from Mahananda were causing extensive damage on the outskirts of the sanctuary and in bordering Nepalese villages, which was affecting more than 50,000 people.

Human-elephant interaction at Kolaveri Forest, Indo-Nepal border

Kolaveri, a small patch of forest on the banks of the Mechi River, is now the last refuge for the elephants on the Indian side of the border. An 18 kilometre stretch of very fertile agricultural land in the Jhapa and Bahundangi districts of Nepal draws around 100 elephants from the Sanctuary each year, especially during the maize (May-July) and rice (October-December) cultivating seasons. Elephants are continually disturbed and tortured by humans as a consequence of new agricultural activities in their former habitat and face further pressures from farming as land is altered for grazing livestock and the collection of firewood. As a result, there has been an increase in both elephant and human casualties.

Cattle grazing also become a threat for these giants

In 2016, the Nepalese government erected a 20-kilometre-long fence, called tarbar, from upper to lower Nepal to protect their cultivated land, resulting in the Kolaveri elephants being forced to scatter into neighbouring Indian villages. Though the herd was not able to cross the tarbar, one tusker tore down a part of the fencing, causing further animosity. In this bid to stop elephants from entering their territory, the Nepalese government blocked a century-old migration route, which has altered natural behaviour and has increased, rather than decreased, incidences of human-elephant conflict.

This is a trans-boundary conflict situation that needs immediate resolution between India and Nepal. A joint action plan must be formulated, implemented and maintained at both national and local levels to prevent further damage from occurring to humans or wildlife.

Find out more about Asian elephants on Arkive

See more of Avijan Saha’s amazing photographs on the Wildscreen Exchange

Jan 11

I’m Roberto Isotti, a conservation photographer, Arkive and Wildscreen Exchange contributor and PhD in zoology.

homoambiens70963

I’m based in Rome (where I was born). I began my professional activity in the Eternal City and even though I have travelled to six continents, I still maintain a deep connection with the city of Rome, that is forever full of charm and inspiration.

homoambiens57369

I am currently working on a project entitled ‘Wild Rome’ which is a way for me to mix the love for my city and the great passion for nature that drove me to conservation photography and still leads my everyday work.

Wild Rome is a long-term project that tells the story, often hidden, of wild animals living in the city. The idea is to highlight the species that live next to us, often nearly ignored by people. The link between a big metropolitan area, such Rome, and its wildlife is not so easy to catch, but Rome is a surprisingly green city with lots of wildlife.

homoambiens122901

 

In Rome there are:

  • 4 million citizens
  • 19 mammal species
  • 121 bird species, 78 of them nesting
  • 16 amphibian species
  • 10 reptilian species
  • 5,000 insect species

With this project, we aim to tell the stories of the wild citizens of our city who are often seen, but people are not fully aware of. Through photography and storytelling, we will show animals for what they really are, without judgment or hierarchy: non-human individuals with unique characteristics, neighbours with whom we share the city.

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Wild Rome focuses on the biodiversity hosted in our city in a new light, with the hope of creating empathy for unpopular species, showing their hidden beauty and their function within their ecosystems. This will create a tangible connection between people and the animals that have decided to call an overpopulated city like Rome home.

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Please share this blog and help Roberto to inspire people to care for the future of the wildlife of Rome.

Visit Roberto’s website to see more of his amazing photographs and find out more about his Wild Rome project.

 

Apr 18

Arkive and Wildscreen Exchange photographer James Warwick recently visited the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which is located in the Central Indian Highlands. This name may not mean much to you but it is, in fact, the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ and is home to the tigers, sloth bears and Indian leopards that are featured in the story.

We asked James to tell us about the places he’d been to in India and share his fantastic images with us – and you!

James: To date, I’ve worked in four National Parks in India; Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Kaziranga all of which are all classed as Tiger Reserves by the Indian government’s Project Tiger. As well as providing vital habitat for the surviving Bengal tiger, they are also home to a vast array of other mammals and birds some of which are shown in this selection.

Ruddy mongoose (Herpestes smithii) on rock, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Ruddy mongoose, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Ranthambhore National Park in south western Rajasthan is famous for its wild tiger population and was once a private hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur. Its name comes from the vast fort that stands in the middle of the forest which is thought to date back to 1110. At 392 km2, Ranthambhore is one of the smallest 47 Project Tiger reserves in India.

Bengal tigress (Panthera tigris tigris) swimming across Lake Rajbagh, Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

Bengal tigress swimming across Lake Rajbagh, Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

Bandhavgarh National Park, situated in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, is one of India’s most popular wildlife reserves and at 438 km2 covers a similar area to Ranthambhore. Bandhavgarh’s tiger population density is one of the highest in India but it is also rich in other wildlife including large populations of Indian leopards and sloth bears.

Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) resting in sal forest (Shorea robusta), Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Sloth bear resting in sal forest, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Kanha National Park also lies in Madhya Pradesh in the Central Indian Highlands about 160 km southeast of Jabalpur. The reserve consists of a core area of 940 km2 which is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,005 km2. In the 1890s, this region was the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ stories.

Tiger sleeping on rock in forest (Panthera tigris tigris), Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

Bengal tiger sleeping on rock in forest, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

Finally, Kaziranga National Park lies in the floodplain of the mighty Brahmaputra River in the north-eastern state of Assam and is home to around 75% (1800) of the remaining world population of the Indian or great one-horned rhinoceros. There is also a healthy population of Bengal tigers (around 100) but their shy nature and the region‘s tall ‘elephant‘ grasses make them very difficult to see.

Indian rhinoceros wallowing (Rhinoceros unicornis), Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

Indian rhinoceros wallowing, Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

The Bengal tiger is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies but there are fewer than 2,500 left in the wild with poaching to fuel the illegal trade in body parts in Asia being the largest immediate threat to their remaining population.

Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) cub, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Bengal tiger cub, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Find out about the work that the Wildlife Protection Society of India are doing with tigers on their website

Visit James’s website to see more of his wonderful images

If you are from a conservation organisation, James has very kindly made these images and many others from around the world available to you. If you’d like to get access to the images, join the Wildscreen Exchange, or email us at exchange.info@wildscreen.org.uk for more information.

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