It has been a little while since my last update here on the blog, for which I apologise. It has been a very busy few weeks with lots of shoots and lots of travels. As a way to say thanks for your patience (if you have dropped in on here recently and found no updates!) is to offer you a sneak peak at some the images I took recently that will be making their way into a new multimedia piece that I am working on this week, as a coninuation of my work on China’s wetlands crisis.
Zhalong Wetlands - Heilongjiang - China
Last week I travelled to the province of Heilongjiang, which lies in the north-east of China. I travelled to this region as it was one of the last regions of the country that I had not had the opportunity to get to during my coverage of environmental issues in China over the past couple of years. This area is crucial to China as it is the ‘bread basket’ of the nation, producing vast amounts of food which are fuelling the people of China to make some of the amazing economic changes we have seen over the past few decades.
With summer almost upon us, I know many photographers are wondering what on earth their wardrobe contains that will ensure they stand out from the crowds of other photographers this season. Forget scarves. In case something goes wrong with your camera, why not have a t-shirt which doubles as a mini schematic of how your camera works?! The above t-shirt can be purchased in UniQlo in Beijing for the bargain price of 100rmb (US$15).
If schematics are not your thing, then you might want to head for the slightly more understated white t-shirt with simplified Canon EOS motif. Two, surely ‘must have’ items for this year’s summer wardrobe
Followers of my blog will know that since last summer, I have been working on a project photographing and creating multimedia reports about the state of China’s wetlands, sponsored by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
The above video is the third in a series of seven that I am producing. Four and five are already complete, with six and seven coming very soon, however, I am working with a well known organisation to launch these as one package in the coming months. Much more on this soon…
I hope you enjoy the above video which highlights the plight of Dongting Lake, one of China’s most vital water systems. To view the first two installments of these videos, please head to my Vimeo channel here.
Just a very quick reminder to readers here that there are only 2 days left to submit your entry to the Burn/David Alan Harvey Emerging Photographer Fund. This is a wonderful opportunity for photographers with a very substantial $15,000 for the chosen work. Please take a moment to read an article I wrote in January about the impact on me and my work in receiving the first EPF in 2008. If you decide to enter, best of luck!
“During his trip, Robert Frank shot 767 rolls of film yielding about 27,000 images. He edited that down to about 1,000 work prints, spread them across the floor of his studio and tacked them to the walls for a final edit. Out of a year and a half of work, Frank chose just 83 images for his book The Americans.” – NPR Article
So, is good photography just a numbers game? Well, of course not. It is often said that photographers ‘sketch’ a situation, like an artist. Moving, watching, experimenting, waiting…until the moment is just right. You really have to know what you are looking for. That comes with time and practice. The hidden power of photography lies in the editing. The ability to select the right image(s) from a situation and then put together the ones that work best together, to eventually create a compelling story, or narrative.
It’s always good to get a second opinion on your work from a trusted editor, friend and/or colleague. Find a small group of people who know what they’re talking about. Ones who aren’t afraid to give you completely honest feedback. This is key to helping you move forward.
Regular readers here and followers of my work will know that the main focus of my photography is on environmental issues. In recent years, notably on access and availability of water in Asia, specifically China. I came across this short video on the National Geographic website that I wanted to share here with you. It tackles the question, “Why Care about Water?”
“If you took all the water in the world and put it into a gallon jug, less than one teaspoon of it would be available to us.” – Alexandra Cousteau – National Geographic Emerging Explorer
We have precious little usable freshwater to play with in the world. With our global population skyrocketing and demand for water increasing everyday, access and availability to water is going to be one of the most crucial factors determining how our future develops.
March 15-27 saw the holding of the Washington DC Environmental Film Festival in America’s capital. It was a showcase of short films made about environmental issues around the world and I was lucky enough to have been invited to show some of my recent work from China, as part of the presentation given by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Even though I wasn’t there myself, this was a wonderful opportunity to spread the message about my work on wetlands issues in China and bring this issue to a new audience. The above video is from the beginning of the Pulitzer Center’s presentation, given by Jon Sawyer, the Pulitzer Center’s Director. I’m proud and flattered that they led their presentation with my recent piece on the plight of Dongting Lake, in central China. You can watch the piece by watching the video above.
For more information about the film festival, here is their Missions Statement and outline from their website:
The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital seeks to further the public’s understanding of environmental issues – and solutions – through the power of film and thought-provoking discussions with environmental experts and filmmakers. The Festival is a platform that fosters environmental awareness and action.
Founded in 1993, the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital has become one of the world’s largest and most influential showcases of environmental film and a major collaborative cultural event in Washington, D.C. Each March the Festival presents a diverse selection of high quality environmental films, including many Washington, D.C., U.S. and world premieres. Documentaries, features, animations and shorts are shown, as well as archival, experimental and children’s films at venues throughout the city. Films are screened at partnering museums, embassies, libraries, universities and local theaters and are attended by large audiences. Selected to provide fresh perspectives on global environmental issues, most Festival films are accompanied by discussions with filmmakers, environmental experts and special guests, including national decision makers and thought leaders, and are free to the public. The Festival’s Web site serves as a global resource for environmental film throughout the year.
I’ve been debating with myself over the past week whether or not to write a post on the subject of the loss of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. I did not known these men personally. I coincidentally know many of their friends very well but I had never been lucky enough to meet them myself. I knew of Tim due to his reputation within photojournalism but I am afriad I was not familiar with the work of Chris Hondros before the tragic events in Libya on 20th April. I was deeply saddened in knowing the world of photojournalism had lost these two men. Having seen many of the heartfelt dedications coming out to these men from close friends and colleagues, I felt it was inappropriate for me to comment since I did not know them.
I felt I needed to write this post today however, as last night I finally had the opportunity to watch two pieces of work by Tim Hetherington that I felt compelled to share here. The first, is the movie Restrepo, made by Hetherington and his co-director, Sebastian Junger. Set in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, the movie focuses on the lives of one platoon whom the filmamkers followed for a year, documenting their engagements and experiences dealing with war. To say it’s a powerful film is an complete understatement. It’s one of the most powerful movies about war I have ever seen.
The second piece of work that I felt compelled to share was ‘Sleeping Soldiers’, a conceptual piece by Hetherington focusing on images he has taken, literally of sleeping soldiers, overlayed with video footage of combat situations in Afghanistan. The resulting piece of work is what I believe is a pardigm-shift in storytelling from a photojournalism perspective. It’s hard not to be engaged and at the same time disturbed when watching this short piece. I felt like I was being thrust into the traumatic and turbulent dreams that men who suffer war must endure. I have never seen work like this before presented in such a way.
So, as a small dedication to these men I can only offer links to their work and spread the messages that they were trying to communicate to the world. This is what we as photographers and storytellers all try to do. Spread the word. Tell untold stories. Illuminate darker places. Work for some kind of change for the good. These two men were at the forefront of our industry trying to do that.
Link to Chris Hondros’s Website | Parting Glance: Colleagues and Friends Remember Chris Hondros – New York Times
For a complete list of links to dedications and tributes to Hetherington, Hondros and their work, please visit Photojournalism Links and DVA Foto
Welcome to the blog of Sean Gallagher, a British environmental photojournalist, videographer and multimedia producer based in Beijing, China.
Sean specializes in covering environmental issues in Asia, documenting the conflicts between nature and humanity.
Sean's work has featured in news outlets including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel. He is also a contributing photographer to the National Geographic Image Collection.