How wildlife photographers can help drive positive environmental engagement through powerful images?
Magdalena Herrera, director of photography at GEO magazine, has a wealth of experience in the world of photography and journalism, and a keen eye for an amazing image. This made her ideally placed for her appointment as a judge for the 2019 European Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
The competition, run annually by the Society of German Nature Photographers and now in its 19th year, challenges professional and non-professional photographers alike to provide the best photography Europe has to offer.
Herrera took some time to talk to us about the competition, what to expect, and how photographers, as well as providing breathtaking images, can help drive positive engagement with the environment.
Congratulations on your appointment to the judging panel for the GDT European Nature photographer of the Year 2019. How did you become involved with this competition?
“I think some of the photographers I work with at Geo have suggested that I participate. Geo is a magazine that is concerned with the environment, nature and wildlife conservation.”
Why do you think competitions such as this are important?
“Nature and wildlife photography is becoming increasingly popular. Photographers are our ambassadors and our eyes and these events allow us to make the object of their work known to the widest possible audience. Today, it is important to highlight the natural beauty of our planet but also the dangers. It's not just about beautiful pictures.”
Have you seen many of the entries yet? What is the standard like so far?
“As far as I can see the standard is high!”
Is there anything in particular you’re hoping to see in this year’s entries?
“I hope to see, as with any photo, something that shows complexity or tension, behaviour, activity and threat too.”
Is there a category that you particularly appreciate or enjoy?
“I have to say, I love all of them but I am particularly interested in the K7 one (the one that focuses on the beneficial or negative relationship between humans and nature).
Why do you think it is important for the competition to explore this particular topic?
“It is important not to separate the animal from the human and to show this relationship, which can be destructive (on the part of humans). We share a planet where everyone must find their place.”
To what extent is nature photography able to reflect on the efforts of conservation and/or reveal what more needs to be done? What are its limitations?
“Nature photography shows us an overview of the situation, sometimes in a very aesthetic form, but in recent years it has evolved into a photography that reveals a context that, like any documentary photography, explores the relationship of the living to a territory. In this sense, it strongly concerns us all.”
Words: Danny McCance
Header: Joel Brunet, Ein Gemaelde des Lebens