Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The Last Paradise
Using photography as a conservation tool, Ralph Lee Hopkins tells the story of the Galápagos Islands
Adopting A Project
To better understand the issues, I set out to photograph not only the rich biodiversity and threats facing the Galápagos, but also the people. The project was an outgrowth of my travels over the past decade and also was inspired by the book Galápagos at the Crossroads: Pirates, Biologists, Tourists, and Creationists Battle for Darwin's Cradle of Evolution (National Geographic Society Books, 2009). I became possessed by all things Galápagos, talking to everyone I knew and meeting new people who wanted to help at every turn. I made consecutive trips to the islands, photographing with local naturalists and videographers, and interviewing as many people as possible to understand the issues through the eyes of the locals.
Adopting a project is a great way to put your images to work, taking your photography to the next level. Adopting a project also will help you focus on photography like never before. Make it your own by challenging yourself, and don't be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Give yourself deadlines, make contacts, and search for venues to publish and display your work. Let passion be your guide.
Despite all the emphasis on video these days, the importance of still images shouldn't be underestimated. We're bombarded with tons of video every day, yet when you stop and think, what you really remember over time is just a few special images. Personally, the images that stick with me are "Earthrise" from the Apollo 8 mission because my Dad worked in the space program and Ansel Adams' "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico" because I live in New Mexico and learned photography with a 4x5 view camera.
Over the years, I've met many people who live and work in the Galápagos, those fortunate enough to call the islands home. Being in the right place at the right time, I had the opportunity to initiate a conservation photography project collaborating with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, bringing like-minded groups together who cared about the future of the Galápagos.
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