Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015

23 June 15

Posted at 12:19

Yesterday I visited the first day of the exhibition of The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015 at the Royal Geographic Society in Knightsbridge.  Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015 The exhibition include images from amateur and professional photographers from across the world. The aim is to raise awareness of environmental and social issues and raise awareness of their causes.The photography is quite impressive and it is clear that there is a welcome spectrum of experience and ability. I say welcome as I beleive giving amateurs/beginners to have their work dsiplayed alongside more experienced and professional photographers is both motivational and refreshing.

The exhibition is not perhaps a cohesive as it could be. The display flits between locations and types of environmental issues. As in the main there is just a single or few iamges of any particular problem the only theme the viewer picks up is on of rampant consumerism and apalling waste management on a global scale. I am sure many of the images come from larger bodies of work but that was not clear from the exhibition. Because there are so many different issues and locations portrayed the viewer may easily become blaise to the real issues. That is true particularly when so many of the images are perhaps soft on the mind, they are colourful pleasing images to observe and even with the accompanying texts they sanitise horrendus situations. 

I considered that Burtynsky uses fine art photography to get the real messages across why does this not seem to work in this exhibition. Well, first I guess,  as I said this is a display of single images of a miriad of issues with the environment as the only common theme. But beyond that is presentation, Burtynsky's work is large format and presented large. Of course one could not expect this competition for all levels of photographer using all levels of equipment to replicate Burtynsky's impact however it is presentation that lets this exhibition down in terms of its potential impact. The photographs are all the same size and presented uniformly, window mounted and framed. Worse still is the failure to use non reflective glass. Fighting with the reflections dimishes the impact of the images. One of the first entries in the visitors book highlights this shortcoming. A variety of image sizes, some at least if not all unframed and if framed non reflective material fronting the image would have improved the viewers experience and the messages no end.

Aside from those gripes I recommend a visit, it is free and the standard of photography is high. I do fear that this partocular exhibition will do little in terms of a call to action for addressing the world's environmental problems whereas to do think photography, still and video, has a major part to play in both education and provoking change.

The exhibition rusns at the Royal Geographical Society 1 Kensington Gore London SW7 2AR 10 till 5 daily until 10th July 2015 and the at the Grizedale Forrest Visitor Centre Forrestry Commission England Cumbria 18 July until 6 September 2105