James Delano: “It Is One Thing to Read about Climate Change and Quite Another to See It Happening”
On March 25, International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Docudays UA opens an exhibition of photographs from the Instagram project EverydayClimateChange. This is a collective work of photographers from all over the world, who document climate change on all continents. James Delano, the author of the project, told Bird in Flight what prompted him to cover environmental issues and how he implements his idea with the help of over 40 other photographers.
Japan-based American documentary photographer. His projects have been cited with the Alfred Eisenstadt Award (from Columbia University and Life Magazine), Leica’s Oskar Barnack, Picture of the Year International, PDN and others. In 2015, he founded EverydayClimateChange (ECC) Instagram feed, where photographers from 6 continents document global climate change on 7 continents.
— I had been documenting the environment, mostly in East Asia, and seeing massive deforestation in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, and the effects of rapid industrialization using coal as the primary energy source in China. The effects on the people, the land, land rights, and the climate were staggering. I have been interested in the environment all my life but, after moving to Asia from North America, and seeing unprecedented environmental destruction, I knew I had to do something about it.
I was asked to take over an Instagram feed to post my work on climate change, and at the same time, I was exhibiting environmental work at Festival PhotoReporter in Saint Brieuc, France where I meet Peter Di Campo, the founder of EverydayAfrica Instagram feed. I was so impressed by his project and him, as a person, that a few weeks later, I asked if he would mind if I were to start a climate change feed and weave it in with the loose-knit ‘Everyday’ family. He not only readily agreed, he encouraged me to create the feed. EverydayClimateChange was launched on 1 January 2015.
The feed has photographers documenting climate change on seven continents. We have about 40 photographers who contribute. I photograph climate change wherever I travel. I plan, and largely self-fund, projects but I will also study climate change issues in a place I am traveling to on other assignments by extending travel to do so.
I want to show that climate change is not limited to one region but happening all here and now. It is a global phenomenon. I believe it is easy to dismiss climate change events in one region, but it is harder to deny when you see visual evidence of climate change around the world in diverse climates, landscapes, and latitudes. I believe that non-fiction photography can present the issue like no other. It is one thing to read about climate change and quite another to see it happening over the world.
I have actually been taking a little break from climate change to work on the human rights issue of the US/Mexican border wall, due to the new, and in my opinion, racist, immigration policies of President Donald Trump. I will return to climate change work in the summer in Latin America.