ResPoss Culture Club | Wildlife photographer of the year 2014

4 November 2014 | ResolutionPossible

When we get caught up in our daily lives it is easy to lose perspective and forget ‘what we are doing it for’. Busy jobs, lives, minds. At ResPoss we are no exception to that. So sometimes it is good to pause and remind ourselves what our work is all about.

Last weekend I went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. I knew it was going to be impressive. What I did not expect, was how much it reaffirmed the purpose of Resolution:Possible to me. At the end of the day, what are we doing this work for? The photographers provide us with an answer: this.

Glimpse of the underworld Christian Vizl

The mouse the moon and the mosquito Alexander Badyaev

Feral spirits Sam HobsonWalking around the exhibition in the half dark with the backlit photographs jumping out at me, soft, floaty music playing, it was a very magical experience. Generally we do not have the time or the means to go out in the world to see these wonders of nature. So the photographers helpfully point some of them out to us.

The photographs in the ‘World in our hands’ category are heartbreaking and eye opening. The winner Bruno d’Amicis with his picture ‘The price they pay’ shows us a three-month-old fennec fox with a string around its neck and one of its front paws not quite touching the ground suggesting that he is being tugged by his neck. The fluffy cute-ness of this animal is a stark contrast to the dire fate it has met: it has been snatched from the wild and will be sold as a pet. D’Amicis names high unemployment, poor education, weak enforcement of conservation laws, ignorant tourists, habitat destruction and as well as the socio-political and economic impact of the Arab Spring as some of the root causes of this fox trade.

The price they pay Bruno d'Amicis

We see the victim in the little fox, but we are also shown the frayed, tattered shoes on the feet of the fox seller. I overheard a little boy and his father standing next to me as I was looking the picture: “Daddy what’s happened to that man’s shoes?” to which the father replied “He doesn’t have very much money so he can’t buy new shoes”. It struck me that to this child and his father, poverty is an abstract fact without too much thought on ‘why’.   The child’s observation of the state of this man’s shoes and the father’s simple reply reminded me of the work Resolution:Possible has to do. Both man and fox, seemingly victims of events unrelated to us, are intertwined with our own lives and the choices we make. The question is why. Why is this man poor. The answer requires looking at what happened before this picture was taken. The answer is complicated. But is undoubtedly connected to us.

The other ‘World in our hands’ photographs back this up: the rows and rows of shark fins drying on a roof in Hong Kong (Paul Hilton ‘Sea of death’), an orange, muddy stain in the middle of a green rainforest (Charlie Hamilton James ‘Filthy riches’) and animals looking forlorn and yet adapting to human life encroaching on their habitats (Ian Johnson ‘Where is my forest?’ and Karine Aigner ‘Dinner at the dump’). Increasing demand for unusual pets, exotic remedies, precious metals and space for expanding human populations are at the core of these photographs. We are looking at the results of our own actions.

At Resolution:Possible we believe that when we acknowledge this, we can move forward. We can stop the photographs of the other categories from ending up in ‘World in our hands’.

Keep a look out for Simple Things you can do, coming soon here at ResPoss.

Author: Marijn van de Geer

Innocence betrayed

You can visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London or go to their website to view the work by the finalists.

Have you been to Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014? What photograph made the biggest impression on you? And why? Do you agree with what we said about the ‘World in our hands’ photographs, or did you take something different away from them?

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