I was coming out of three days at the Liancourt Prison. I was not incarcerated; thanks to Robert Badinter, the Attorney General at the time, I was granted access to do a reportage on prisoners with life sentences, some of whom were very sick. I was shaken by what I had seen, since this incarceration brought back memories of the one I had lived through for three years in Iran, in the jails of the Shah as a political prisoner. It was a period during which, for the first time in my life, I had no access to a camera.
It was during the early hours of the morning. I wanted to drop off my film as quickly as possible at the Rapho Agency, then on the Rue d’Alger in Paris. I had a bit of time before the office opened for the day so I decided to take a stroll in the Tuileries and finish up my film. I’ve always had a hard time not getting to the end of each roll of film. I heard the sound of wings; my camera is always at the ready and I snapped a few photos. Some birds and a statue. Nothing more. A few days later, I developed this photo which I quite liked. A shot of a sculpture of a figure in chains and a free bird. My friend Adriano Sofri, an Italian intellectual who was visiting me at the time exclaimed, “Hey Reza, are you now into mythology?” I didn’t understand the allusion, so he recounted the story of Prometheus, the Titan who wanted to bring fire to mankind and so the gods condemned him to be chained to a rock in perpetuity while an eagle continuously devoured his liver, which kept regenerating. In Paris, Prometheus was a statue and his tormentor, a pigeon. The explanation for an instant that one seeks to capture sometimes comes after the moment.
Published in "Derrière l'objectif" (Hoëbeke Publishing, 2010)
Photo by@FransLanting // Cheetahs are the most vulnerable of the world’s big cats, with cub mortality as high as 95 percent, often due to predation by lions and hyenas. Co-existing with those formidable adversaries is tough for cheetahs who are more timid and risk adverse. Long term studies have revealed that in the entire Serengeti ecosystem fewer than 50 cheetah females successfully raise cubs to independence on a regular basis. Here is one of these remarkable “supermoms" scanning the horizon for trouble with a cub next to her. But even supermoms can’t cope with the human threats they face in addition to their natural hazards. So, I’d like to give a shout out to the organizations who are working to safeguard a future for these amazing cats and hope that you will support them too. Thanks to NatGeo’s Big Cat Initiative, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), Cheetah Conservation Botswana(CCB) and Panthera. Follow me @FransLanting for more images of cheetahs and other inhabitants of Wild Africa.
Photo by @scottgoldsmithphoto // These smoke stacks are in my virtual backyard, about 20 miles west of Pittsburgh. This photograph is part of an ongoing project on air quality related to fossil fuels, in western Pennsylvania. The project is partially funded by the Heinz Endowments. This ongoing project came on the heels of a National Geographic web site story about natural gas in western Pennsylvania, published about 6 years ago.
Climate change is a fact, not a game with alternative facts. Germany gets roughly 25% to 80% of their energy from renewable sources depending upon location. Sweden and Costa Rica are also leading the renewable energy revolution with better numbers than Germany. The USA gets far below 7% from renewable energy sources with some areas topping 10%. The US surplus of natural gas is large enough to ship increasing amounts overseas yearly. Natural gas is methane. Methane is almost 40 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than all other fossil fuels. Natural gas is leaked into the environment during drilling, fracking, extraction, transportation, processing and end users. Coal will never be "clean". A renewable energy future might be the only answer for earth's future.
Photograph by @andyparkinsonphoto/@thephotosociety
Gannet portrait – Using natural frames has always been a very effective way of composing an image, especially if you can frame your subject by using another bird/mammal of the same species. This inquisitive gannet image is improved by the out-of-focus gannet in the foreground whose neck and body allow me to place the main gannet off-centre whilst it’s muted tones of white and yellow also compliment the primary colours of the main bird. By utilising opportunities such as this the resulting image immediately acquires another dimension, another level of depth that, when the alternative would have been to set the gannet against a featureless blue sky then if nothing else it fills the frame with more interest, more detail and more narrative. With a bird that is as sleek and graphic as a gannet though it’s often worth trying to capture that moment when the gannet looks directly at you as this gives a beautiful symmetry to their angular faces. Of course this is yet another element of the intended image that as a photographer you are hoping that will serendipitously collide but on this occasion I got lucky and was able to capture this characterful portrait. Another lucky and unplanned aspect of this image is the way that the blue in the eyes of the gannet are echoed by the blue sky behind and so a lot of different, complimentary elements came together in this image. Not untypically with me it is an old image that my ham-fisted processing had essentially butchered and so this image is a much more faithful rendition of the original RAW file. I wouldn’t suggest that natural frames is something that you go out specifically looking for but try to at least remain aware of the possibilities and then who knows when an appropriate opportunity might arise. Please #followme at @andyparkinsonphoto to keep up-to-date with my images @natgeo@andyparkinsonphoto@thephotosociety#gannet#wildlife#phototips#ethicsbeforeimages#nature#naturelovers#wildlifeaddicts_#animal_beauty#nature_brilliance#animalsonearth#exclusive_wildlife#majestic_wildlife_#nature_brilliance#nationalanimals#majestic_wildlife_#wildlifephotography
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz@feedtheplanet A patchwork of raised beds of taro and bananas emerge from the fertile floodplain of the Nyabarongo River near Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda has the highest rural population density in Africa, and intense competition for farmland has pushed people to cultivate food on even the most labor-intensive pieces of land. To see more visit @feedtheplanet
As part of my quest to document some of the last wilderness areas on the planet, I did a long photography expedition in Arctic Canada, traveling over 1200 km from Qikiqtarjuaq along the edge of Baffin Island past Pond Inlet to Arctic Bay. We explored many of the fjords and the ice edge along the coast. In the northern tip of the island, we regularly encountered polar bears, like this mother and cub.
Photo by @hammond_robin for @witnesschange “When we came here, I could not even approach him, because he would have hit me. But now with the help of men of God who prayed for him here, I see that he is better” said Sankpel Bédagou (right) of her son Lare (left). They agreed to tell their story for my new campaign on mental health #InMyWorld. Lare is usually chained to a tree inside the grounds of a church in the region of Bokiccenag in northern Togo where I met them. I saw 15 other adults living with mental health problems chained to trees or posts around the church while they waited to be cured through prayer. Some had been there, chained, for more than a year. Lare, like the others, was brought to the church to be healed. People come to the Church to pray for the resolution of problems ranging from financial difficulties to severe illnesses. In many parts of the world mental health problems are perceived to be spiritual in nature, so spiritual remedies are sought. In many cases chains are used to immobilise while the healing is taking place. All over the world the freedom of movement is a human right often denied to people with mental health issues. #InMyWorld is my new campaign designed to expose the challenges faced by people living with mental health issues and give them the chance to be seen, heard and valued. This first phase of the campaign was created in collaboration with @handicap_international as part of Witness Change's work on global mental health. @witness_change is a nonprofit that aims to end human rights violations for marginalized communities through visual storytelling. To see more please follow @OneDayInMyWorld
Photo by @jasperdoest // First gentoo penguin spotted as the National Geographic Explorer arrived at the Antarctic peninsula after crossing the Drake Passage.
These charismatic waddlers, who populate the Antarctic Peninsula and numerous islands around the frozen continent, are the penguin world’s third largest members, reaching a height of 30 inches and a weight of 12 pounds. Gentoos are partial to ice-free areas, including coastal plains, sheltered valleys, and cliffs. They gather in colonies of breeding pairs that can number from a few dozen to many thousands.
Close to the Edge Cave, British Columbia photos by @salvarezphoto (Stephen Alvarez) Neeld Messler makes his way through a constriction at the bottom of the 255 meter deep entrance shaft. This is the crack we widened to allow us to barely squeeze through. I remember it taking almost 45 minutes to squeeze and shimmy down this head sized slot. On my first trip through a rock came tumbling down the passage while I was wedged inside. I couldn't move my head and could only watch it fall straight toward me. The rock broke the bridge of my nose but we still pushed the cave downward. #explore#britishcolumbia
Photograph by @andyparkinsonphoto/@thephotosociety
Kamchatka brown bear tour – There now remains just two places left on a trip-of-a-lifetime photographic trip that I am leading to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East next July. Our primary target will be the Russian brown bear or grizzly as it is known in Alaska. Kamchatka remains one of the last great pristine wildernesses on Earth and to even get there we need to fly in by helicopter. I’ve put a link in my bio for anyone that might be interested in grabbing these last two places. As I’ve never been before I’ve posted this image of an Alaskan grizzly bear fishing which I captured a few years ago. Our visit to Kamchatka will coincide with the spectacular salmon spawning and this is pretty much what bears do when they fish. If you can get yourself into the right position, or you have a little bit of luck then you might end up having a full grown grizzly bear running toward you. Of course it helps if there’s a salmon in between you and the bear but these are definitely one of those opportunities when it’s best to get as low to the ground as possible. This not only increases the feeling of intimacy but it also has the effect of distancing the backdrop, allowing the photographer to throw it more out of focus. Of course I would have preferred that this bear wasn’t intersected by the featureless white sky but I was too busy trying to maintain focus on a galloping grizzly to worry about whether the backdrop was going to end up being distracting or not. With subjects like bears the best thing to do is to pick your spot and commit, not keep ferreting and fidgeting and doing anything at all that might interrupt their natural behaviour. This image is filled with things that I’d like to improve and so in Kamchatka I might be able to get a volcano in the backdrop! Please #followme at @andyparkinsonphoto to keep up-to-date with my images @natgeo@andyparkinsonphoto@thephotosociety@tatraphotography#brownbear#grizzlybear#russia#kamchatka#wildlife#phototips#ethicsbeforeimages#nature#naturelovers#wildlifeaddicts_#animal_beauty#nature_brilliance#animalsonearth#exclusive_wildlife#majestic_wildlife_
Photo by @melissafarlow | Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah ranks as one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen. It is vast, remote and rugged with geologic artistry of sandstone and sculpted cliffs above canyons. When working on an assignment for @NatGeo on public lands, I hiked to places so fragile and beautiful that I never imagined they existed. I watched paleontologists work to uncover puzzles to the past. At night I heard nothing but silence. I saw planets and stars in a clear, dark sky. I flew over some of the 1.9 million acres when it was first designated a National Monument in 1996 amazed I’d never known this special place before. And it was protected until this past week when it shrunk to nearly half its size and was split from a contiguous wilderness into separate areas. Big business and states rights got a sympathetic presidents ear and #Trump reversed federal protection. Bears Ears National Monument was cut by 85 percent. Other places are being reviewed. These monuments protect irreplaceable Native American cultural sites, habitat for wildlife and open space that provides an unspoiled wilderness experience. These lands belong to all, not just a few. How ironic that when the West was settled, these were the lands that no one wanted. @thephotosociety@natgeo#wilderness#grandstaircase#utah#nationalmonument
Close to the Edge, Canada photo by @salvarezphoto (Stephen Alvarez) a Facebook post this morning reminded me of one of my first expeditions. Close to the Edge is a huge pit in the Canadian Rockies. Remote, cold, dangerous, it's entrance shaft is 255 meters deep. I was part of a 3 man crew that enlarged a blockage at the bottom of the cave and pushed downward to -430 meters. I remember riding south after the trip, crunching survey data in the back of a greyhound bus and calling friends from a payphone in Wyoming to announce we had explored what was the the second deepest cave in Canada. #britishcolumbia#explore
Video/music by @pedromcbrde // After supplying water to seven states, the Colorado River dries up when it reaches Mexico. But a few years ago, the gates of the Morelos Dam lifted and the Rio Colorado delta jumped back to life for eight weeks as part of bi-national effort to restore one of North America’s great estuaries. For a brief moment, a river of sand became wet again and people celebrated along the banks with music, dancing horses and more. Thanks to the hard work of a few, ongoing restoration efforts continue to bring pulses of water and life back to this forgotten delta region. To see more, including the short film about this, go to @pedromcbride. #chasingrivers#deltadawn#conservation#nature#water#exodusaveirofest
Photo by @jasperdoest // The view from my room aboard the National Geographic Explorer while crossing the Drake Passage towards Antarctica.
The Drake Passage is the body of water between South America's Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean (Scotia Sea) with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and extends into the Southern Ocean.
Photo by @Hammond_Robin for @Witness_Change “I think my daughter is bewitched” says Margaret Konga, sitting with with her 7 year old daughter Bibiyan Ida. Margaret suspects her husband’s family of cursing her daughter. Juba, South Sudan. In many parts of the world, mental health problems are thought to have spiritual causes. Remedies are often sought from religious of traditional healers.⠀⠀⠀⠀
My new photo project #InMyWorld is designed to expose the challenges faced by people living with mental health issues and give them the chance to be seen, heard and valued. This first phase of the project was created in collaboration with Handicap International @handicap_uk as part of Witness Change's work on global mental health. Witness Change (@witness_change) is a nonprofit that aims to end human rights violations for marginalized communities through visual storytelling. To see more from this campaign please follow @OneDayInMyWorld.
Photo by @scottgoldsmithphoto // The watchful eye of a border patrol agent tempered the illegality of stepping in and out of Mexico several times in 15 minutes as I observed the landscape and artifacts of “THE wall”. In this location, it was a beaten, weathered and vandalized metal fence.
The agent, on US soil, was searching for tire and foot prints. I watched from Mexico. The scant barbed wire fence in the right van window marks the border.
The agent explained that smugglers of people and (or) drugs used this abandoned van. This is the most remote part of desert leading into the US from Mexico. Sophisticated electronic and drone surveillance is used here to locate illegal activity in this large swath of treacherous land. Infrared and heat detecting surveillance was also in place.
The proposed new wall has significant environmental costs. Parts of the border are some of the continent’s most significant wildlife corridors. Among the endangered species affected by the wall would be the jaguar, the Sonoran pronghorn, and Chiricahua leopard frog.
Other negatively affected species would include the desert tortoise, black bear, desert mule deer, and a variety of snakes. But even species that can fly, such as Rufous hummingbirds and the Swainson's and gray hawks could be harmed.
Vital pollinators that migrate across the border, such as insects, could end up burnt up by the lights necessary to illuminate the wall.
A poisoned U.S.-Mexican relationship could prevent the renegotiation of vital water sharing agreements with the Colorado River. This could potentially undermine both U.S. and Mexican water and food security and agricultural production.
Many lengthy studies have concluded that billions spent on the wall will not be offset by the proclaimed benefits. Experts say smugglers from Mexico will dig tunnels under the wall or use drones to fly their contraband across it. These studies further surmise that migrants will use boats, forcing the U.S. to face a less-acute version of the Mediterranean migration catastrophe. #borderwall@thephotosociety#Mexico#USborder#borderfence
Photo by @florianschulzvisuals
The Arctic Refuge is one of the most pristine and vast wilderness areas left in North America. From the Arctic Ocean a prairie-like tundra landscape leads up to the Brooks Range. Every year the Porcupine caribou migrate to this specific spot to calf. 200 000 caribou flood the landscape. This magical wilderness is under threat as the Trump administration wants to allow oil development in the very coastal plane of the refuge, which plays such a vital role for caribou, muskox, wolves and a myriad of migratory birds. Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling was hidden in the GOP tax bill that was just approved by the senate. We need to speak up to protect these last wilderness gems for the next generation. Please spread the word and follow me for more impressions on the Arctic Refuge, the place I have documented for over 15 years. @thephotosociety@natgeo@florianschulzproductions#publiclands#ArcticRefuge#wilderness#alaska#caribou#conservation#nikon#aerial#florianschulzphotography#naturelovers
This was made at a small festival in the mountainous Basque town of Sare, in 1967 while I was documenting the French and Spanish Basque country for National Geographic magazine. The picture was made at dusk, the time the French call “the time between dogs and wolves,” when it’s no longer really daylight and not yet truly dark. Several of the dancers are slightly blurred from their movement. The film I was using was not very fast but the slight movement adds to the feeling of the ambience. The fading light, the warmth of the colored light bulbs strung above, framing the scene. A solitary girl stands watching the dancers. It reminds me of some Impressionist paintings where dancers are shown in great intimacy. Not to say this is like a painting. No, it’s a photograph but one that might carry the feeling of the ambience as I remember it. My hope in making a picture is often that the viewer will feel what I felt when I was there. #followme@williamalbertallard for more images from the Basque Country and other assignments spanning five decades. #basque#basquecountry#festival#dance#dancing#dusk#filmphotography#kodachrome#leica#village#mountain#justdance#leicacamera#leicacraft#dancelife
Photograph by @andyparkinsonphoto/@thephotosociety
Mountain hare foot stretching – Well it’s certainly been a good year for me in regards to competition success. Of the six competitions that I enter routinely every year I’ve won 5 different categories in 4 different competitions. The latest ones to be announced are the Nature Images Awards (link in my bio), a competition that I was fortunate to win overall back in 2012 with a portfolio of 12 gannet images. It’s their portfolio categories that are my main motivation for entering this competition as I consider myself much more of a long-term project photographer and I have a passion for trying to produce credible and unique bodies of work, as opposed to simply dropping in with a species for a few days here and there. In this particular competition I’ve been fortunate to win a grant to continue my work with the mountain hares, a species which is exceptionally close to my heart and one which could do with all the support that it can get. Rather randomly I also won the Comedy category, a category that I also won in Nature Photographer of the Year and it would only be fair to say that this is typically one of the weakest categories. Competitions are so notoriously fickle and subjective and so much of one’s success is dependent on luck and guesstimating which image to enter in which particular category. I didn’t think that this hare image was strong enough to compete in the Mammals category, nor did it match the tone and feel of the cool blue hues in my winter hare portfolio so I was very fortunate that they’ve introduced a Comedy category in recent years. Tomorrow I’ll probably post one of the hares from my winning winter portfolio but if you’d like to see the portfolio as a whole then please do click on the link in my bio, as always I’d love to hear your honest thoughts be they good, bad or indifferent. Please follow me at @andyparkinsonphoto to keep up-to-date with my images @natgeo@thephotosociety#mountainhare#cairngormsnationalpark#scotland#educateandinspire#ethicsbeforeimages#nature#naturelovers#wildlifephotography#wildlifeaddicts_#animal_beauty#nature_brilliance#animalsonearth#exclusive_wildlif
Photo by @rezaphotography#Bosphorus#Turkey
I was on assignment for the National Geographic Magazine, on Turkey. That night, I was in Istanbul. The sky tore apart suddenly, disrupting the calm of the evening and putting a stop, as well, to the busy, teeming noise of Istanbul. For a moment, the Bosphorus - the place where the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and Asia and Europe, all meet - came to a standstill, a brief, stunned halt before the wrath from the gods of rain bore down on it. The city of Istanbul, too, came to a stop for an instant. The Bosphorus Bridge crosses the strait, linking both sides of Istanbul, and also both continents, the East and the West. Battered by the storm, the friendship bridge seemed fragile.
At the heart of human history, the Bosphorus has always been the scene where empires were made and unmade: the site for the confrontation between the Persians and the Greeks; the route for the Crusaders, surging toward the East, driven by the thirst for conquest; and the setting, on the heights of Istanbul, for the Palace of Topkapi, from which the Ottoman emperors ruled over the world for five centuries. While covering various stories in Turkey, I witnessed the richness and the fractures of the country’s culture, both the result of the tension between modernization and tradition, between East and West.
Photo by @argonautphoto (Aaron Huey). Over 5000 people attended a protest against the reduction by President Trump of Utah’s #BearsEarsNationalMonument and #EscalanteNationalMonument in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Yesterday, #Trump signed two proclamations, shrinking the size of Bears Ears by almost 85 percents and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly 50, fundamentally reshaping the two large national monuments. To see more images of the protests and more coverage of the National Monuments story follow @argonautphoto.
Fade to Black, the Procession Panel, Bears Ears National Monument Utah
time lapse by @salvarezphoto Today the Republican administration announced huge cuts to the Bears Ears and Escalante National Monuments. The Bears Ears will shrink from 1.5 million acres to just over 200,000. It was established last year after decades of consultation with and support from native communities. Over 100,000 archaeological sites were contained in the National Monument. Special care was taken to insure that hunting, fishing and offroad recreation would continue even after the National Monument was created. #bearsears#standwithbearsears