What does sustainability mean to you? Our photo ambassadors reveal the truth behind their photos.
How does photography capture the truth about sustainability?
We asked some of our photo ambassadors what the truth about sustainability means to them. Discover from each of them how each photo conveys the moment, the story, the subject, the location and above all, the photographer's desire to communicate the truth.
Rory is a British portrait photographer who has spent over a decade capturing many of the world’s most recognised faces including William Shatner, David Cameron, Sir Derek Jacobi, Iain Glen and Natalie Dormer. His images have been exhibited on both sides of the Atlantic, and several of his iconic portraits have been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London. Rory divides his time between London and Los Angeles, working with a wide variety of clients. He draws inspiration from the masters of art including Hans Holbein the Younger, Titian, Caravaggio and Jusepe de Ribera.
A commercial and portrait photographer from Poland, Jakub seeks out the most creative studio and location opportunities. His work for well-known brands has featured in various advertising campaigns and he runs photography courses and workshops.
Spanish photographer, Carlos is a part time professional photographer, alongside his job in the IT industry. His passion is landscape and nature photography and he teaches photography master classes and workshops in Spain.
South African photographer and film maker Craig Howes is renowned for his evocative travel photographs, taken on his explorations around the world. He has won numerous photographic awards during his career, the most recent being ‘World’s Leading Safari Influencer’ in 2020.
Heidi is a Norwegian geologist with a passion for nature, adventure and photography. Her work for clients includes portraits, advertising and product photography and has been published in international magazines, books and greetings cards.
Jakub is a Czech photographer with a passion for travel and photography. He participates in photo seminars and trade fairs and runs his own photography courses.
Martin is a teacher and content creator from Austria. He heads the master class in photography at the FH St.Pölten and is an exclusive trainer for LinkedIn Learning.
Marco is a professional photographer, influencer and blogger from Sicily. Originally specialising in landscape and reportage, he now covers all photographic genres. He’s the author of the bestselling photography manual ‘Eye, Mind and Heart’ and works for international print and online publications.
Luís has twice won first prize in the Portuguese Nature Photographer of the Year competition in the categories Landscape and Art. Based in Lisbon, he’s a teacher, photographic tour leader and regular speaker at Portugal’s nature photography festivals. Luís has published two books and his content has appeared in publications such as National Geographic, Visão, Wilder and Super Interessante.
Rodrigo is a professional photographer from Madrid. He has over ten years’ experience in the documentary and street photography sector. He’s the author of three books for Anaya Photoclub publishers and in addition to his freelance photography work, is a trainer for companies on the use of images in marketing.
Rui Gaiola is a Portuguese freelance photographer dedicated to commercial, nature and travel photography. His work has won praise from National Geographic Portugal, Observador magazine and Público (P3). His book “I wish I could drive these roads forever” features photos from Portugal, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland and the US and he was recognised as 2020 Instagrammer of the Year by Gerador Magazine.
Antoine lives and works in Brussels, where he first became a journalist and then studied photography in order to illustrate his own articles. After a series of major reports in countries around the world, he set up his own studio devoted to corporate and architectural photography. He exhibited his work for the first time in 2013 and went on to collaborate with a number of galleries.
Finnish photographer, Tiina Haring opened her first studio in 2005, concentrating mainly on portrait photography. Although she has since shifted more to commercial photography, she considers herself at heart to be a ‘people photographer’. Through her company Rouva Musta, Tiina helps companies to build brands and visual concepts and also takes part in exhibitions each year, working on personal projects focused on nature, femininity, ecology, resources and society. Tiina also leads courses teaching vocational photography.
Jonathan is a French photographer who travels the world, sharing his adventures on social media. Always in search of new experiences, he captures different environments around the world with a curious gaze. In his approach, he often questions the place of humans in the environment and our relationship to it. His work allows him to explore environmental issues in great depth, which inspired his lifestyle and way of traveling.
Mihnea is a former geology and painting enthusiast, actor and journalist from Romania. He discovered photography 14 years ago as a passion and today it represents his lifestyle, work and best way of self-expression. The photography themes he is most renowned for are events and portraits but in the last few years he has expanded into food, corporate and advertising.
My truth about this photo
Deborah Penny was the first transgender solider to transition in the British Army. While she felt like she was trying to lead multiple lives, none of them genuine, she completed a Commando course in 1986, undertook military exercises in many countries across more than a quarter of the globe and became a Bomb Disposal Operator. Today she is the Warrant Officer for diversity and inclusion in Army Engagement.
Deborah is quoted as saying ‘Look, I did it, I’ve made it, I survived. You can be the real you if you want to be.’ This is what I wanted to show, as well as the strength that exists inside her even if she didn’t always feel it was there.
Bringing humanity, sustainability, generosity and innovation to the business sector is the goal of green entrepreneur and Cardiff School of Business PHD student Sharzerinna Zainal. She is committed to encouraging the collaboration of businesses, NGOs and government to helping society progress together.
There is a resolute purposefulness about Sharzerinna that I wanted to shine out from the image. She says she asks people what they stand for and the tilt of her head suggests she is asking the same question to everyone looking at her picture. What would your answer be?
How do you do justice to a man who is arguably the single most acclaimed British theatrical actor of our time? Outside of acting he is committed to supporting the LGBT community. He is co-founder of Stonewall, a UK LGBT rights lobby group, named after the Stonewall riots. Sir Ian McKellen is also patron of LGBT History Month, Pride London, Oxford Pride, GAY-GLOS, LGBT Foundation, and FFLAG.
His prominence as both a performer and a human-rights campaigner left me with a lot of inspiration for this shoot. We decided on a style of portrait reminiscent of the renaissance artist, Holbein, and used lighting to preserve the intimate detail and wisdom found in his expression.
Oscar nominated actor James Cromwell has stood up for causes close to his heart throughout his life. In the ‘60s he joined the anti-Vietnam war movement and in 1970 he became a member of The Committee to Defend the Panthers that helped the acquittal of 13 Black Panthers. He became vegan while playing the lead in the 1995 film ‘Babe’ and was sentenced to seven days in jail for non-payment of a fine issued when he protested against a power plant in 2015.
When directing James, I wanted to articulate his quiet determination and fortitude. I asked him to imagine he had taken a long pilgrimage. I wanted to capture a man of faith who is almost pensive, taking the time to meditate and reflect.
Luwr a Abu Dhabi is the most iconic and majestic building I have ever seen. It received multiple awards for sustainable development. Its innovative construction limits energy and water usage to 30% which is very impressive.
I'm aware that renting clothes from a designer is not always possible. Nevertheless, you can still be more eco-friendly with clothes from fast fashion brands. Look out for clothes with eco labels, which depending on the brand, is called ’Join life’ or ’Conscious’. This is exactly what I did in my recent Mallorcan photoshoot - a jumpsuit with the 'Join life' label.
Fashion is one of the most polluting industries for our environment. However, we have a choice, we can reduce this negative impact and be eco-friendly. We can choose to rent quality designer pieces that can be photographed multiple times. High quality clothes last longer than fast fashion pieces.
Due to climate change, heavy storms are more frequent, and often come with hail. This photo was taken during one of the biggest storms ever seen in the province of Málaga, which I was following supported by meteorological tools that helped me to position myself to capture it from an interesting point.
Heavy storms, as a result of climate change also produce droughts. Water reserves, in general, are reducing in each cycle, due to less and less frequent rains. This photo was captured in a beautiful sunset in Viñuela’s dam, which would usually have a higher level of water than seen in the image.
It’s hard to see a nice starry and deep sky, due to light and atmospheric pollution. To enjoy these skies should be a kind of human right. I thought of this photo for a long time before I decided to go to this place and walk down to the beach to capture the Milky Way through those rocks
The number of vehicles in our cities is growing fast year on year. The total amount of pollution it causes doesn't increase proportionally because of the increase in low-emission vehicles, but it is not enough to minimise the damage pollution is doing in our large and medium-sized cities. I took this photograph looking for a vanishing point in the frame of the road and waiting for the traffic to be as 'attractive' as possible for the composition.
I had been chasing storms trying to get a lightning shot for 4 years and this was pure chance and being at the right place at the right time. For me, conservation around clean beaches and places that are untouched are a key part of my work. I believe that it's imperative to respect nature in all its glory.
At the time this photo was taken, South Africa was in a period of drought. Cape Town (depicted in this image) was affected the worst and water restrictions were enforced to conserve water in the region. I love this photo because it makes Cape Town look like an island surrounded by water. Looking at this photo reminds me of the importance of water conservation and how we take water for granted.
This photo shows the bay and the mountains together in Cape Town. It's one of my most-liked photos as it shows off what makes Cape Town so special. Without conservation, we would not be able to enjoy nature's unique offerings, such as this one. Keeping beaches as breathtaking as they are demands that we continue our efforts to protect them, our oceans and our land.
I took this picture while out on a township tour. As part of a group, I set out to paint houses and plant vegetables gardens in the community. The locals eat from the vegetable gardens and also sell some of them as an extra source of income. Looking after communities is an important aspect of sustainability that should not be ignored or undermined.
During a cleanup operation at the marina of Nazaré in 2019 I had the pleasure of getting to know Redd and Roxanna Walitzki, two creative artist sisters specialising in trash-couture. We collaborated on a project on the concept of ghost nets - fishing nets that have been lost or abandoned at sea, posing a threat to marine life and coral reefs. Redd constructed a dress out of green net with tyres and ropes tangled inside. The fisherman were very curious about the three girls climbing around in the pile of dirty discarded fishnets. It is an experience in sustainability I will never forget.
I have always been fascinated with marinas and the life of fishermen. I love watching fishermen work, talking to them and getting to know them and their lifestyle. This life experience has inspired an on-going project of mine focused on the life both on the docks and in the sea. Portugal’s fishing industry is concentrated in small coastal communities where it is an important essential socio-economic factor. Fishermen recognise the importance of sustainable fishing. Good environmental marine practices contribute to food security, sustainability, generate long-term employment and reduce pollution.
During my time as a geologist I spent many months at sea studying the ocean floor. Besides being incredibly exciting from a scientific point of view, the ocean has a calming effect on me emotionally. For the past two years I have focused on marine and ocean themed projects. Oceans are vital to life on Earth and have a significant impact on weather, the oxygen we breathe, temperature, and the food supply of humans and other organisms. Continued research and careful management of this essential ecosystem, is needed to protect the ocean and its resources.
When you see a sunrise like this you realise how important it is to take care of nature and to be grateful for its beauty. I think it is important to show people through my photography why they should take care of it.
There is nothing like the feeling of wild birds landing in your palm and feeding. That is the moment when you are close to nature and I wish everyone could experience it. It is always good to give something back to nature, even if it means happy small birds.
The old forest in Madeira and its beautiful trees. This place is so wonderful and it always reminds me that it is so important to be kind to nature and preserve it. Because if don't, we won't have places like this.
Sustainability is a term that often spreads a feeling of grandeur, weight and at the same time powerlessness. But usually to photograph sustainabiity, it is enough to simply go out into one's own neighborhood. Not to look for 'the great' in the distance, but to find the near with oneself. This picture was taken only a few steps away from my apartment in a park. Quiet and natural.
When you're on the road focused on your destination, you don't let your eyes wander to the roadside. But that's where you find the moments and photos that tell the story. Photography doesn't have a destination that you have to reach in order to photograph there. The path is the goal - and there the many situations to the left and right of this path. I realise more and more how often one's thoughts are far away even though one has everything one needs nearby. Sustainability, frugality, role model, future. Big words that occupy me.
I undertook a tour of hidden Sicily in 80 days to reflect on the value of being Sicilian. Our journey by bicycle with solar panels and power banks to charge our equipment was intended to convey the idea that a culture of 360 degree sustainability is essential to preserve our heritage and sustain our local economy. This photo, taken near Cammarata is a symbolic reportage of the tour.
During my tour of Sicily, I visited Galati Mamertino, a beautiful medieval village in the province of Messina, where Slow Food Presidium, the international non-profit organisation committed to producing food in harmony with the environment, produces honey from the Sicilian Black Bee. In the centre of the shot you can see the queen bee with the yellow circle.
Laverino is a tiny village in Sicily, up in the mountains close to the Cornello Pass and Umbrian border. The fertile lands proved the ideal habitat for the Laverino bean that reached the region in the 16th century. Cultivation of the Laverino bean, has been reintroduced by the Slow Food Presidium. The photo features Roberto who moved there two years ago, where he carries out traditional agricultural techiques that have now almost disappeared.
The small islet of Santa Catarina, on the south coast of Madeira islands, resembles the head of a marine animal that screams for the salvation of the oceans, the largest ecosystem on Earth. In an area where many sperm whales were hunted in the past, marine animals are now preserved so that future generations can enjoy a truly blue planet.
Two seagulls patrol a rough sea on a stormy day at Moledo do Minho beach in northern Portugal. Seagulls are predatory and scavenger birds, acting as the cleaning brigade of our coastal areas. They are essential to keep the marine ecosystem functioning. In this photograph, a quick exposure time was used to capture the birds clearly and to lend strength to the sea, thus increasing the drama of a storm.
A colony of seagulls rests on one of the slopes of the Southwest Alentejo Natural Park, south of Lisbon, Portugal. A skyless photograph shows the blue of a wild sky and the black of the magmatic rocks so typical of this area, contrasting perfectly with the white of the birds. A long exposure was used to capture movement at sea. Long, but not too long, as the birds hardly stay quiet for a long time. This is one of the existing natural parks in Portugal with the aim of protecting the marine areas and the biodiversity that lives there.
This photograph was taken on a summer evening in the coastal town of Almuñécar. The evening light always seemed excessively pretty to me. The colours, the shadows, the textures. When I saw how the children played in the sand and how the sunlight fell on the sand in the late afternoon, an image came to mind. The dust suspended from the sand made the colour more visible created an incredibly attractive atmosphere. Sunlight, without a doubt is the energy that is most associated with Spain. An energy that is also the raw material of photography. Energy and sun, are key factors in the path towards sustainability and the necessary commitment for a better future.
This photograph was taken on one of my walks in search of light in the city of Madrid. Light is a fundamental part of the visual narrative, and even more so in my way of looking at photography. It is not an accessory, but the protagonist. Its shapes, its balance and the way it has of changing an environment is what made me click right in that instant. Light is one of the clean energies of the future. It's a fundamental element of photography and my union with sustainability always.
This photograph was taken in Zarauz, Gipuzkoa. Like light, the natural elements of the earth are an indispensable part of the human being. The attraction we feel for them is a fundamental part of our desire to attract them. People are not aquatic beings, but we need water to live. Feelings and life emerge when water is part of us. This shot frames how water and children are a true reflection of that life. The sum necessary to guarantee our future.
This photograph was taken in Legazpi, an old steel mill. The fire. Another element of nature that, despite exercising certain conflicting feelings against life or sustainability, is also a fundamental part of it. People are drawn to fire. It is synonymous with passion and strength. Taking a photograph with a flame rising in front of a worker brings us back to our origins. To the most primitive moments as people. It's necessary, to reflect on the importance of the world and its sustainability, and that's what this photograph is about.
Lake of fire is located in São Miguel island in the Azores and is one of its most emblematic lakes.
Due to the fog that's present there it's a real challenge to capture this lake in the right conditions. As always with nature photography, waiting and patience is one of most important tools to get the image we really want. This is an aerial photography, shot by a drone where it captures the whole lake and its beauty. It's so important to take care of these natural water paradises, because they are key for our future
Antelope Canyon in Arizona state was formed by the force of the waters that ran there, millions of years ago, creating the gap between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon.
It is possible to see marks in the rocks that show how high the waters reached. You can see red and brown tones in the rocks with a unique light that enters at different times of the day to create amazing designs inside the canyon, allowing us to capture infinite images from one single place. Today, these water marks are less possible in this context, where desertification is unstoppably advancing.
The scene takes place in Skagen in Denmark, a remarkable site that’s the point of convergence between the Baltic and North Sea. They meet without mingling so that the seas have different tones on both sides of this sand point.
The long exposure symbolises ‘carpe diem’. It smooths the elements, and the sky, sand and sea appear tenderly frozen whilst revealing the furtive moment of the characters. This composition, as poetic as it is, reminds us of the unchanging and timeless force of nature, but also the urgency in the face of passing time to adopt more sustainable and more harmonious behaviors towards this nature that welcomes us.
Since the dawn of time, shores have been a place of meeting and separation between peoples and cultures. A simple horizon line on the sea would seem too minimalist to me. This is why I decided to photograph stakes in the sea which ultimately gives the image its graphic rhythm.
These stakes, firmly anchored to the bottom of the sea, remind us of the ravages of time, the fragility of all human construction in the face of the unchanging power of nature, and the tenuous balance that we have managed to establish with this nature. They draw our attention to our responsibility as well as the urgent need for our modern societies to adopt a more sustainable and responsible environmental approach.
Moya means mist in Japanese. There is no need here for image retouching to create the dreamlike distancing, the mist and the soft light of a snowy sky are more than enough to suggest the power of nature without showing it in all its details. This image suggests to us the underlying power of nature and the imperative need to respect it and to subscribe to sustainable and respectful approaches.
Nature and forests in particular are the source of my inspiration an thankfully many of my clients also appreciate this, selecting it as a filming location. My images reflect my preference for eco-friendly, recycled materials and respecting the natural world through making better choices.
Savu (smoke) is a Finnish handmade jewelry collection. The brand pictures wanted to bring out Finnish legends and mystics, so we photographed in a smoke sauna where we created a dim atmosphere. The pictures speak of how the design of the jewelry is inspired by the authenticity of nature. This reflects my own purchase decisions which are always influenced by quality and sustainability. I favour working with local businesses so that I can contribute to the sustainability of the economy, jobs and services in my area.
I implemented this project together with my designer friend Carita Ahonen. We set out to reflect on the beauty of a woman but not by means of ordinary portraiture. In our pictures, Carita was looking for a suitable place for a woman where she would be part of the landscape. A woman rises beautifully from the landscape. Everyone is beautiful just as they are.
This is one of the most fantastic places I've come across in all of my travels. Madeira's Centennial Laurel Forest is a timeless space that delivers a unique atmosphere as dusk falls. This forest is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its splendor and ecological importance, its tree specimens now exist only in the Canary Islands in Madeira and the Azores.
This is one of the most emblematic villages of the Norwegian fjords. Queen is a small fishing village at the end of the world where calm and nature reign. The Lofotens are home to unique landscapes and biodiversity preserved by Norway.
At the foot of Mount Bromo in Indonesia, riders brave the dust storm, a true apocalyptic setting set in Bromo Tengger Semeru Park. This space has been recognised as a biosphere reserve for its environment rich in varied species.
I frequently take trips to the mountains to unwind, away from the fast pace of the city. These photos represent a part of nature that has remained peaceful and beautiful despite the large number of people that frequently walk along the paths and usually leave traces behind them. A habit of mine is to bring a bag with me and do a little clean-up when I spot something.
My landscape photos always aim to remind people of the beauty of nature and that it is their obligation to preserve it. I hope that a beautiful photo of a sunset or a peaceful river landscape can encourage people to make even the smallest effort to protect the nature around them.
Bucharest, as many other large cities, offers lots of opportunities for impressive shots of urban sunsets, with such rich and varied colors and the results are quite stunning. Sunsets are always a good opportunity to seize the moment and capture it forever in painting-like shots although quite often in the big cities the red, pinkish, or yellow colors are due to air pollution. In my urban photography my aim is to encourage the inhabitants to see their city lives from a sustainable perspective and understand that change is in their hands.
Local shops that provide artisanal products have been on the rise. People are more and more conscious about the impact that consumption has on our lives, but also on the environment, and they are turning back to traditional foods, with clean ingredients, as a more sustainable lifestyle. This photo taken in a small village in Transylvania, Idicel, is focused on the simple and joyous trade of healthy food that is created from sustainable agriculture.
This photo was taken at Vidraru lake. Quite often the water is polluted by tourists who visit the area and leave rubbish behind. However various NGOs have done several cleaning campaigns in order to preserve the wildlife within the lake as well as its surroundings. Their efforts show, since the lake has a beautiful marine-like color that is even more beautiful on a sunny day.
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