Award-winning wildlife photographer Brian W Matthews will be showcasing work at the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this year.
Brian has travelled across the world photographing a range of animals from komodo dragons to puffins and now is hosting his very own competition at the COP26 event.
How did you start taking pictures of wildlife and how has that affected your outlook on the world?
I’ve been taking wildlife and conservation photographs since 2003. I’ve been lucky to see some of the most amazing places and animals in the wild, Tigers, Elephants, polar bears, puffins and whales. Even over my short existence I’ve seen changes national parks getting smaller by human encroachment, low fish stocks impacting seabirds, retreating glaciers and starvation, extrapolate that out to 2100 . Without action it won’t just be the animals that suffer, I do believe what we do to the planet and wildlife will happen to us. Showing the world what’s happening and how beautiful nature and wildlife I hope will make people want to help, make a change and care more.
How have you been able to capture climate change in you images?
Recoding the change landscapes like retreating glaciers, and coastal erosion are tangible ways to show the impact of climate change but the main focus I’ve had is showing that we still have amazing natural places for wildlife to live but they are getting smaller and smaller by the minute, the orangutans in Borneo are surrounded by Palm oil plantations and that results in conflict, mothers getting killed and babies are left to die or end up int the illegal pet trade being alongside conservation teams rescuing these animals and recording what happens is an important way to tell the story and make people care about what’s in their food and where it comes from. Engagement with the public at COP26, we hope will be enhanced with great photos support with amazing stories, and I hope since I’ve been taking photographs my images have influenced a few people and made the care a little more.
Could you explain what COP26 means to you and how you feel about presenting your work there?
COP26 is about understanding the problem and the whole world doing something about it. Helping each other and making change. The COP’s are known for their target setting reductions of GHG emissions but there’s so much under those targets that needs to be done to make it happen, our images will visualise what has and needs to happen. Public demand for sustainable products that have lower impact are really important to stimulate debate and action, and that’s what will happen in Glasgow in November. If this project is successful, our images will give insights into the challenges and successes and remind people of what they are there for. The 26 global photographers will capture the world as it is now and provide a mirror for us to look into and a line in the sand so in future images the actions from COP26 will make difference that we can all see and feel.
Could you explain more about the competition you are holding?
The competition will be open to anyone and will focus on the themes of COP26 and Together for the Planet but will be UK based, to show off the wildlife we have, the conservation work that’s ongoing and the challenges wildlife faces in the UK. We’re keen to see wildlife alongside people, industry and farming, we want a set of 26 images that really highlight what’s happening and what needs to happen. The competition images will be displayed at COP26 and around the UK (hopefully the world) as a travelling exhibition.
Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to get into wildlife photography?
Get outside is a great way to start. Stop and have a look around you. There’s wildlife everywhere. You can do loads with your phone camera before you think about buying something more serious. Focus locally to start with, get to know your area, what wildlife is about, when it appears (usually early morning is a good time for both wildlife and great light) and then practice and try to get the perfect shot.
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