A Tibetan Plateau Diary
For the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. To view the full gallery of images.
“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us” — Oscar Wilde
I’ve never been one for keeping a diary. My parents encouraged me to keep one from a young age, but numerous half-filled notebooks are evidence of my failed attempts. Early on however, I realized that photography and the experience of looking at an image were much more effective in helping me to remember where and when I was at a certain place, but most importantly, what and how I was feeling when I was there.
This past summer and autumn, I traveled across the Tibetan Plateau, documenting some of the threats from climate change to the people and ecosystems of the “Roof of the World.” As I traveled, I carried with me my iPhone, along with my normal professional equipment.
For the past year and a half I have been taking pictures with my phone, mostly using it as a way to document smaller moments, or objects and things that I just wanted to record as a reminder for myself. This new tool has become my diary.
There has been a lot of debate recently about the role of cellphone photography and its impact on the professional world. Some see it as detrimental; others, as a new tool for story-telling.
I see it as the latter, a new tool that I have been able to experiment with, to play with, to help me think slightly differently about my approach to my work. Many of the images that I take with my phone have been captured in a manner that could not have been possible with my normal equipment. I don’t see a conflict in the images that I take with the different systems.
The other factor I have enjoyed with the rise of cellphone photography is access to a brand new audience who may not have discovered my work before. I share my mobile uploads through Instagram (https://instagram.com/sean_gallagher_photo), where I have found a large community of people who are interested in the work I do and the issues that I cover.
This gallery presents a selection of my images from the Tibetan Plateau, taken with my iPhone, presenting an alternative view of my coverage of the issue and a personal record of moments from my travels.