Waking the giant – how can polar photography help bring about change?
If you’re interested in polar exploration or fighting climate change, Sebastian Copeland pretty much needs no introduction. He is one of the great photographers of both the Antarctic’s and the Arctic’s endangered landscapes. After starting out as a video maker in the music business, he began creating images to raise awareness of climate change in the year 2000. His first book Antarctica – the Global Warning, was published in 2007, followed quickly by 2008’s Antarctica – A Call to Action. It is a mark of the impact he has made that he has not just exhibited at the UN but has been called to make a keynote address there.He has visited the Antarctic five times in all and has won numerous awards for his work. He has studied glaciology and geology, but while this gives him key insights into the science needed to understand precisely what’s happening in the Antarctic, he believes that photography is the most powerful tool he has to convince people of the need for change. He describes it as using ‘Beauty as bait’, and his champions range from Mikhail Gorbachev to French President Emmanuel Macron, who in 2019 knighted him for his advocacy work in the National Order of Merit. His most recent work, published last year, is his stunning and sobering Antarctica: the Waking Giant.