Tuesday, September 23, 2008

From Photographer to Environmentalist

More on photography and activism ...

With the first presidential debate coming up on Friday between Obama and McCain, one of the hot topics is sure to be energy. The candidates will elaborate on their plans to make America more self-sustaining in energy, and will most certainly talk about drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

An interesting point here is that both Obama and McCain have opposed the plan to open the ANWR for drilling. However, Sarah Palin is from Alaska, and she supports this plan. So this issue is sure to again come to the forefront.

A couple of years ago, we went for a talk by a young Indian - Subhankar Banerjee - who had given up a conventional career in engineering/computer science, to become a photographer. We were curious to hear his story, and came away thoroughly impressed.



He had taken a year off some years ago, to drive around the US, taking pictures of wildlife and wilderness. Unsatisfied with the quality of pictures he could get of polar bears, he went into interior Alaska, to the ANWR, and lived there through the long and cold winter, taking photographs of everything he saw, including caribou migration (in picture below), and polar bear cubs being led out of their den by their mother for the first time!


At that time he was not aware of the problems the region faces, and was only interested in capturing the life that he saw around him even in the harsh winter.

What he came away with is a breathtakingly beautiful collection of photographs, showing in delicate detail, the multitude of life that exists in that part of this country even through the winter.


The ANWR region has been called "a barren winter wasteland", where there is no life, and so there is no reason to not drill there. However, Banerjee's photographs captured caribou migrations, migratory birds, life around hot springs, little winter flowers, and much more during the winters that he spent there. His collection of photographs has subsequently been used as visual proof that life does exist in this "barren winter wasteland".


We bought the book - his collection of photographs - and had him sign it for us. He has since moved on to other projects, but all of them have an environmental focus to them. We are truly impressed!

8 comments:

pink dogwood said...

I am so envious of Subhankar - many days I want to leave this IT/computer world and do something that matters.

Great post - love the pictures. I will try to find his book.

priya said...

this is a great post, fascinating reading. the pict of caribou migration is like a work of abstract art.

~ ॐ ~ said...

fantastic post !!!

interesting pictures too...

megha punater said...

bindu great post,this was the book you mentioned in my blog na? the pictures look great.will try to get the book.

bindu said...

Bhavana: I know exactly what you mean!

Priya: Thanks. That picture is my absolute favourite of the lot.

Om: thanks for reading.

Megha: yes, this is the book. I really love it and love the story behind it.

shuma.rani said...

Subankar is definately an inspiration for us all....thanks for sharing :))

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this with us - this book looks fascinating - will look for it at the bookstores - UJJ

bindu said...

hey Ujj - thanks for visiting!