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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Turning Point


The International League of Conservation Photographers looks to expand its reach and influence with a new director

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Under Black’s direction, the group has already started and will continue to expand in terms of productivity, fundraising and promotion, with new initiatives like Earth in Focus. Designed to be the iLCP’s publishing arm, this endeavor will include a variety of offerings, such as workshops, lectures, exhibitions and books to generate funds for the organization’s ongoing projects like the very successful Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVEs), which began in 2008. During a RAVE, a group of photographers, scientists, journalists, filmmakers and others document a specific threatened area over a short period of time and use that work—photographs, video, multimedia presentations—to support various other conservation groups in their efforts to protect it.

Black went out on his first RAVE in July to document British Columbia’s Flathead River Valley, a pristine wilderness area threatened by coal mining, strip mining, logging and methane drilling.

“RAVE is a phenomenal concept, and it’s working,” Black says. “It’s a factor in achieving some really significant conservation successes. It’s an incredibly compelling way to bring photographers in direct contact with their conservation partners. We covered a lot of ground really fast and painted a very comprehensive picture of what’s happening.”

Black focused on landscape, which is his specialty, and he mainly shoots large format. An accomplished photographer in his own right, he has done a mix of commercial and editorial work for the World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club Books, Fujifilm USA, MasterCard and magazines such as OP, National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, VIA, American Photo, Rock and Ice, and others. He also has instructed more than 60 photo workshops. His fine-art landscape work is represented by Mountain Light and the G2 Gallery in Los Angeles.

As Black looks to expand the iLCP’s role, the success that the group achieved under Mittermeier in such a short period of time is remarkable, with nearly 100 of the most acclaimed conservation photographers having joined its ranks. At the North American Nature Photography Association’s annual summit this year, Black says he was stunned by the presence that his future employer had at the event.

“It seemed like an equal partner,” he says. “The iLCP and iLCP photographers sponsored a lot of presentations, and it was mentioned in a lot of presentations. The organization has definitely established itself as a relevant player in the world of nature photography and conservation. Cristina had a great idea that had never been hit on before.”

Going forward, Black says he sees the iLCP engaging in similar projects as to what it’s doing now, but bigger. “So if we have staff and funding to organize 12 RAVEs a year instead of four, we’ll do it,” he says. “There’s certainly a need.”

This November during WiLD9 in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, the group will convene WiLD SPEAK, a series of plenary sessions and debates on issues such as the role of photojournalism in conservation. Those same names from Anchorage, like Wolfe, Doubilet, Ketchum and many more, will be there to talk about projects on which they’re currently working. The event is open to the public and marks the group’s fourth anniversary.

To find out more about the iLCP and WiLD SPEAK, go to www.ilcp.com. To see more of Justin Black’s photography, visit www.justinblackphoto.com.

World Wilderness Congress
The World Wilderness Congress (WWC) takes place November 6-13, 2009. This marks the first time the WWC will convene in Latin America, with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón serving as the honorary host. Wilderness and climate change is the central theme, with topics including freshwater and underground wilderness, fire in nature, transboundary conservation and oceanic wilderness. Registration is open now. For more information, visit the WILD Foundation at www.wild.org.

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