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Sustainability And Photography

The Prix Pictet is a world photography award dedicated to environmental sustainability. Twelve international photographers were named to a shortlist July 9, one of whom will be selected later this year to receive the prize.

  • Darren Almond uses the moon as his only source of light, using extended exposure time to turn night into day. For his series "Fullmoons," he was drawn to the Yellow Mountain range, known as Xihai or Huangshan in the Anhui province of China.
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    Darren Almond uses the moon as his only source of light, using extended exposure time to turn night into day. For his series "Fullmoons," he was drawn to the Yellow Mountain range, known as Xihai or Huangshan in the Anhui province of China.
  • "Blast, River and Tunnel" is a series by Naoya Hatakeyama.  It shows underground waterways in Paris and Tokyo, and a Japanese lime works.
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    "Blast, River and Tunnel" is a series by Naoya Hatakeyama. It shows underground waterways in Paris and Tokyo, and a Japanese lime works.
  • Nadav Kander's series "Yangtze, The Long River Series" documents the changing landscape and communities along China's Yangtze River.
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    Nadav Kander's series "Yangtze, The Long River Series" documents the changing landscape and communities along China's Yangtze River.
  • In his series "The Diminishing Present," Edgar Martins photographs the progress of advancing forest fires in Portugal.
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    In his series "The Diminishing Present," Edgar Martins photographs the progress of advancing forest fires in Portugal.
  • Ed Kashi's "Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta" takes a look at the cost of oil exploitation in West Africa.
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    Ed Kashi's "Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta" takes a look at the cost of oil exploitation in West Africa.
  • In his series "Capitolio," Christopher Anderson explores the cycle of consumption, destruction and political turmoil that results from fluctuations in oil prices in Venezuela.
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    In his series "Capitolio," Christopher Anderson explores the cycle of consumption, destruction and political turmoil that results from fluctuations in oil prices in Venezuela.
  • "Memory," a series by Sammy Baloji, combines colonial black and white archive photos from Congo with his own color images of today's mines and neglected infrastructure.
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    "Memory," a series by Sammy Baloji, combines colonial black and white archive photos from Congo with his own color images of today's mines and neglected infrastructure.
  • Andreas Gursky's photograph shows a seemingly infinite landscape of waste.  A closer look shows small figures searching a dump in Chimalhuacan, Mexico City.
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    Andreas Gursky's photograph shows a seemingly infinite landscape of waste. A closer look shows small figures searching a dump in Chimalhuacan, Mexico City.
  • Mount Fuji, the national park, is surrounded by gold courses, resorts and junkyards.  Chris Steele-Perkins' series "Mount Fuji" explores the erosion of natural beauty in Japan.
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    Mount Fuji, the national park, is surrounded by gold courses, resorts and junkyards. Chris Steele-Perkins' series "Mount Fuji" explores the erosion of natural beauty in Japan.
  • The photographs from Yao Lu's series "Mountain and Water" are deceptively beautiful.  What appear to be mountains in mist are actually huge piles of trash and construction waste, shrouded in miles of green netting.
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    The photographs from Yao Lu's series "Mountain and Water" are deceptively beautiful. What appear to be mountains in mist are actually huge piles of trash and construction waste, shrouded in miles of green netting.
  • "Shade of Earth," a series by Abbas Kowsari, documents the annual New Year pilgrimage of Iranians.
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    "Shade of Earth," a series by Abbas Kowsari, documents the annual New Year pilgrimage of Iranians.

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The prize reinforces the fact that photography has a communicative purpose. Last year's theme, water, prompted photographs of desertification, flash floods and glacial melting that showed the merciless forces of nature, as well as the environment's vulnerability to man. This year, the theme is Earth — and the imagery is no less stunning.

Among the subjects featured by this year's finalists: a photo collage of colonial Congo and today's neglected oil infrastructure; a seemingly infinite wasteland of trash in Mexico City; displaced communities along the Yangtze River; and the horrific effects of oil production in the Niger Delta.

The images testify to the environmental cost of human "progress" and show the irreversible toll of exploiting the planet's resources. More importantly, though, the ideal is to provoke action. The artists shed light on places and issues that might otherwise seem inaccessible to people. Take a look at this gallery of nominees, and check out the Prix Pictet Web site to view entire series from each photographer. Who do you think should win?

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