Environmental Photographer of the Year 2014

26 June 2014

Competitions, Exhibitions, Industry news

The prestigious Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2014 has this year been presented to Mohammad Fahim Ahamed Riyad from Bangladesh, who is awarded £5,000 for his captivating image entitled ‘In search of life’.

Riyad’s moving image reveals a fireman searching for signs of life following a fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He comments: “About 400 shanty homes were gutted and four people died in this incident, including a child of six years old. However, no casualties were ever officially reported and the reason for the fire remains unknown.” 

Selector, Brigitte Lardinois, explains: “This image of a helmeted fire-fighter amidst the smoking ruins evokes the heroism of civic society coping with calamity. The caption contradicts our expectations, recounting a shanty town devastated by a fire whose dead go unreported, its cause unrecorded. This photograph gains power from the contrast between evocation of heroic endeavour and a sense of dispiriting futility.'’

The £1000 Atkins CIWEM Environmental Film of the Year award goes to British photographer and filmmaker, Sean Gallagher, for ‘The toxic price of leather’, a powerful film that highlights the city of Kanpur which sits on the Ganges River in northern India, and is one of the biggest producers of leather products in the country, exported across the world. Gallagher comments: “This success is coming at great environmental and social costs that are destroying the local Ganges River ecology and scarring the local people in the form of life-threatening illnesses.”

New this year, the Atkins Cityscape Prize of £1000 is awarded to Faisal Azim from Chittagong, Bangladesh, for his work entitled ‘Life in the circle’ which shows a community of beggars residing in concrete pipes. 

David Tonkin, Atkins’ CEO for UK & Europe said, “As the spotlight on sustainability continues to drive change in both the natural and built environment, this photography collection draws attention to the challenges of a growing population, climate change and that we must all live within the limits of our planet's resources. As engineers and scientists, these pictures serve as a constant reminder we must do more to work together and share our knowledge of ways to adapt to changing weather patterns, cope with rapid urbanisation and avoid the temptation to use up natural assets to meet short term needs without a plan for the long term.”

Bogumil Kruzel from Poland wins the CIWEM Award of £1000 for his striking image ‘Man in the face of nature I’ which depicts the Wieliczka Salt Mine in southern Poland. The winning image is one of three from the series to be exhibited and was taken 135 meters below ground level. 

CIWEM’s Director of Membership and Development, Paul Horton, remarks: “William Albert Allard said ‘You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.’ – which I believe sums up Environmental Photographer of the Year. Unless those pictures that no one else would take are taken, we will never see the reality of our world, we will never probe deeper and never ask the challenging questions that must be asked. This year’s competition opens our eyes and asks to look at the world around us properly.”

The Forestry Commission England Exhibition Award, also new this year, offers the winning photographer a solo show at one of England’s public forests. It was presented to Luke Duggleby, an award winning British photographer, based in Asia. His image, ‘Wrapping a surviving tree’ is part of series featuring Cambodian Buddhist monks blessing the remaining large trees in an area destroyed to make way for a banana plantation. The trees are wrapped in orange cloth while the monks pray; making them sacred to deter future loggers.

Launched in 2007 by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), and sponsored by Atkins, one of the worlds leading design, engineering and project management consultancies, the exhibition is an international showcase for the very best in environmental photography and film. From over 10,000 entries this year, the panel of judges have selected a total of 94 films and photographs that are contemporary, creative, resonant, original and beautiful, by international photographers and filmmakers for display at the Royal Geographical Society, London from 23 June – 4 July 2014, and touring nationally until November. 

The entries were judged on impact, composition, originality and technical ability by the panel comprising Paul Horton, Director of Membership and Development, CIWEM; Brigitte Lardinois, Deputy Director of Photography and the Archive Research Centre at University of the Arts London; Tim Parkin, landscape photographer and Editor of On Landscape; and David Tonkin, Chief Executive Officer, UK & Europe, Atkins. Selected works examine issues such as innovation, sustainable development, biodiversity, poverty, climate change, human rights, culture, natural disasters and population growth.

The works will be on display at the Royal Geographical Society in London from 23 June – 4 July 2014, followed by a tour to forest venues nationally, supported by Forestry Commission England, beginning at Grizedale Forest Visitor Centre, Cumbria from 19 July – 2 November 2014.

Image © Mohammad Fahim Ahamed Riyad, Bangladesh, In search of life.