The way we were – photographing pollution

Since I touched on it in the previous post with the work of Sean Gallagher, I wanted to highlight some other incredible photography that tells powerful stories about our relationship to the environment, and the effect of pollution on health.

Lu Guang
Lu’s images but they have haunted me for years since the first time I saw them. I think we will look back on these unflinching pictures in years to come and ask some profound questions on what the human cost of cheap goods and cheap energy really was. I believe he is one of the most important people with a camera in our generation.

Lu Guang – Requiem for Mountains and Waters

Edward Burtynsky
Scale is everything. Burtynsky gives you the Alice in Wonderland potion where you realise how small you are on this planet. Before leaving on the Churchill trip I managed to catch his film Watermark at the ICA – documenting the years of work that have gone into his last series on our ever changing relationship with water.

Edward Burtynsky - Watermark

Edward Burtynsky – Watermark

W. Eugene Smith.
Minamata series. A painful and moving account of the health effects of mercury poisoning in Japan due to the dumping of toxic waste into water courses. This was shot between 1971-75. This cruelly reminds us these problems are neither new nor unreported. Nor are the reactions any different – Smith was blinded in one eye when he was attacked by a Chisso Company employee for the photographs, and the series had to be continued by his wife Aileen Smith.

Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath Minamata, 1972

Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath Minamata, 1972

 

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