WeTransfer has announced the launch of the Union of Concerned Photographers, an international collective, kicking off with a presentation of work by leading environmental photographers whose work focuses on documenting and responding to the devastating effects of climate change. To raise awareness of these crucial issues, WeTransfer will present the initial projects by Ami Vitale (US), Luca Locatelli (IT), Frans Lanting (NL), Mandy Barker (UK), and Joel Redman (ZA) to its more than 40 million active monthly users, and encourage photographers and likeminded creatives to join the UCP by submitting their work via WeTransfer for a chance to be featured on the site.
All of the content can be found on we.tl/UCP from June 5th.
The concept of the Union of Concerned Photographers derives from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group of prominent experts who, in 1992, sent out a warning to humanity about the coming perils of climate change. Inspired by this movement, the term “concerned photographers” was first used by Hungarian-American photographer and founder of the International Center of Photography (ICP) Cornell Capa to describe those photographers who demonstrated in their work a humanitarian impulse to use the medium to educate and change the world, not just to record it.
“Sometimes the sheer weight of information can be too much. Images have the ability to cut through the noise. That’s why we created the Union of Concerned Photographers, to harness the power of photography to underline the urgency of the crisis we all face,” said WeTransfer’s photography director Lucy Pike.
In 2017, climate experts updated the original warning (now backed by 15,000 scientists from around the world), and identified key alarming trends and changes that our planet has undergone in the past 25 years since the initial union was formed.
Each of the five initial members of the Union of Concerned Photographers will create work that responds to critical crises our planet faces. These include:
- Increased carbon emissions: Global carbon emissions and average temperatures have shown continued significant increases.
- Deforestation: Nearly 300 million acres of forest have been lost, mostly to make way for agricultural land.
- Decreased Biodiversity: Collectively the number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish in the world has fallen by 29%.
- Ocean Dead Zones: The number of ocean “dead zones” – places where little can live because of pollution and oxygen starvation – has increased by 75%.
- Drought: The amount of fresh water available per head of population worldwide has reduced by 26%.
Dutch photographer Frans Lanting, whose work documents the destruction of forests globally, commented on the importance of the Union: “By far, the biggest threat to the world is climate change. Not just because of its impacts on nature but because of its impact on humanity, and this is happening as we speak. I think one of the most important responses we can have to climate change is to protect our forests. They are literally the lungs of the planet — that’s why I’ve been photographing forests for a long time and why I want to show the world what is at stake.”
WeTransfer’s Union of Concerned Photographers is championed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WWF, Global Climate Action Summit, Fauna & Flora International, and the Blue Marine Foundation.
Header Photo: Frans Lanting