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A change in mind (Photo journalism project as a support for #EarthToParis)


Blog by Anne Schmitz

“How can contemporary image makers promote new thinking and make a difference in the world?” (Fred Ritchin, Bending the frame)

Since the first day in my photo journalism class, taught by Sarah Schorr at Aarhus University, Ritchin’s quote has not lost its grip on me. How can a single photo in today’s digital media flow, still contribute towards making a change? How can one create meaningful content through a photo project?

Questions, which constantly floated in my head. Thoughts permanently popped up and disappeared again.

As the United Nations climate conference in Paris came closer, and the related viral campaign #EarthToParis grew, the idea arose in class to contribute with a photo project which would raise awareness of climate issues. The results of the conference will set the course for our future and how we are going to live life on earth for the coming decades, but COP21 leaders don’t pull the strings with their hands alone. My hope is, that everyone can play their part and that even a single photo can become a catalyst for a shift in people’s mentality.

“Your favorite spot, your earth to Paris”

The final aim of my project was to make people think about their individual connection to the environment, as well as their personal association to the transience of nature. Therefore, I called for a blended picture, which combines a favorite spot or a momentous landscape with a self-portrait. Two elements of the planet – humans and nature – melted together to form a photograph in the style of a “double exposure”.

After spreading the word through an international network, the photo collection now consists of more than 40 pictures from 15 different countries, including landscapes from Austria, Bolivia, Canada, Denmark, France, Iran, Norway and Sweden. People from various nations participated with individual motives, but a united message: They don’t want to lose their favorite spots on earth.

The selection shown here, presents the variety of natural elements and their irreplaceable value, literally seen through the eyes of the participants. They all give us insight into their individual perception of nature, as well as shedding light onto what might inspire others to sharpen their view and turn their gaze to Paris.

1_Emily Huse (23), USA - spot Sweden
1. “I chose that photo because I still remember walking to class that day in Sweden and being so amazed at the natural presence of the snails in the early morning, and remembering that we truly do share the earth with so many other creatures. So if we aren’t saving it for ourselves, how about for the snails?” Emily Huse (23), USA – spot: Sweden
2_Mathieu Bonnaric (23), France - spot France
2. “This landscape is one of my first photographs with my dear camera. It was taken from my childhood bedroom in France. Every year when I go back I am disappointed that this ‘ocean of forest’ disappears to reveal more houses and even factories now. This landscape in the sunset represents many things for me, both the disappearance of the environment I grew up with and my childhood memories that are captured forever.” Mathieu Bonnaric (23), France – spot: France
3_Anais Amirifar-Bertschi (23) FranceIran - spot Iran
3. “This picture was taken in Gorgan, Iran while I was traveling there to discover my country. For me it shows the beauty of nature in my home country, which is too often forgotten. When I was on the top of the hill looking at the breath taking landscape I realized how wide the earth is and how small we are. This perfectly shaped desert created by time as well as the rest of the earth is in danger. We have the duty to protect our earth and limit climate changes in order to preserve these unique landscapes for future generations.”Anais Amirifar-Bertschi (23), France/Iran – spot: Iran
4_Biljana Nikolina Celebija (23), Denmark - spot Denmark
4. “My picture is taken in the aftermath of a storm on the Danish west coast. I’d been bugging my family for hours to go outside with me, because I wanted to experience the storm, stand on the dunes and be literally blown away. For me it is ultimate freedom to feel nature in its extreme. With recent weather changes, we see that the shores in Denmark are being slowly eroded by the strong water. People are losing their homes, which are being washed away as the water slowly comes closer. I visited this place again in November – it was completely changed, and the path where we walked before, was now gone.” Biljana Nikolina Celebija (23), Denmark – spot: Denmark
5_Ann-Carolin Obitz (25), Germany - spot Canada
5. „Looking at the sky – the window to nature in a city – I often think about places like this in Nelson (Canada) that make me happy and show me the beauty of nature and the things that are really important. Instead of stones in forms of houses, stone in their natural surroundings.” Ann-Carolin Obitz (25), Germany – spot: Canada
6_Claire Endberg-Bouteille (22), France - spot Bolivia
6. “This picture was taken in the Salt Flat in Uyuni Desert (Bolivia) – an incredible scenery: Silence and a white horizon, that’s all. At this place, you can really see that the earth is a giant globe, that makes you realize how small you are and that you have a great responsibility for this planet. I would like this place to remain the same, as pure as it is now, and this can only happen if we all make some efforts to combat climate changes.” Claire Endberg-Bouteille (22), France – spot: Bolivia
7_Pierre Blaudeau (23), France - spot Norway
7. “’Oxygen and freedom. Finally!’ My own thoughts when we arrived on the top of this mountain. I took this landscape picture on a holiday, that might be the best adventure I have experienced so far – Lapland. Hundreds of kilometers with pure snow, a stunning white desert, coldness full of life, true silence, wild nature at its deepest meaning. Oxygen and freedom. What a paradox, leaving into the remotest corners of the world, running away from our polluted and oppressive society, in order to rediscover the natural senses our earth provides us since the dawn of time.” Pierre Blaudeau (23), France – spot: Norway
8_Lena Schabernack (22), Austria - spot Austria
8. “After a long and exhausting hiking tour we arrived at our destination, the Laserzsee in East Tyrol. The view on this beautiful turquoise lake surrounded by the mountains took my breath away. We should protect such wonderful places and be environmentally aware, because I want that next generations to also have the possibility to enjoy such stunning moments I experienced in the Alps.” Lena Schabernack (22), Austria – spot: Austria
9_Anne Scherrebeck (26) Denmark - spot Denmark
9. “My landscape is taken in the woods of Marselis (Denmark). I have chosen a photo of myself where I am painted according to a Greenlandic myth about the ‘qivitoq’ – a person abandoned by society who seeks the wildness and gains the power of nature. I liked the idea of merging a picture of real nature with a picture of myself painted as a person gaining the power of nature.” Anne Scherrebeck (26), Denmark – spot: Denmark
10_Maria Einfeldt (28), Germany - spot France
10. “The Frioul-Islands of Marseille in its tranquility and beauty. For me a symbol that combines the splendor and beauty of the nature and at the same time a warning, that humans are capable to threaten these places by their behaviour.” Maria Einfeldt (28), German – spot: France
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