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Photographers print to protect

Six high-profiled Australian photographers have contributed prints to Vital Impacts, a women-led US non-profit organisation that funds grassroots conservation movements.

Prints by Michaela Skovranova, Stephen Dupont, Tamara Dean, Matt Bagley, Morganna Magee, and Aletheia Casey will be sold in Vital Impacts Winter Collection.

The non-profit was founded in late 2021 by National Geographic photographer and filmmaker, Ami Vitale and journalist, Eileen Mignoni. Vital Impacts turned its start-up grant of US$25K into more than US$1.5 million by selling fine art photo prints.

The profits have been passed on to conservation and humanitarian groups such as Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program, Big Life Foundation, Great Plains Conservation’s Project Ranger, SeaLegacy and Direct Relief.

The organisation is currently offering two US$20K Environmental Photography Grants which are designed to support the development of ‘long-term documentary photography project with local communities who are working to protect the environment and wildlife’.

Open Edition prints are available at 11×16 inch and 16×24 inch sizes, unsigned, and cost between US$275-$675. Limited Edition prints sizes are determined by the photographers, and are signed and priced individually.

Vital Impacts will donate 60 percent of profits to grants, as well as Roots and Shoots, Goodall’s non-profit that aims to bring youth together to work on conservation and environmental issues. The remaining 40 percent go to the photographer.

Here are a selection of prints by the Australian-based photographers, along with the image descriptions.


Michaela Skovranova – Loss of sea ice

Michaela Skovranova is an Australia-based artist working in the field of photography and film. Her work has focused on capturing intimate environmental and human stories – from documenting coral reefs and Great Barrier Reef restoration for National Geographic, The Great Australian Bight for Greenpeace and the aftermath of Australian Bushfires for Time Magazine.

Photo: Michaela Skovranova.

On February 6, 2020, weather stations recorded the hottest temperature on record for Antarctica. Thermometers at the Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula reached 18.3°C (64.9°F) The warm weather caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers.

I imagine all the tiny snowflakes that had fallen over many lifetimes to build this masterpiece and all the life that depends on it. With the loss of sea ice, we face mass extinctions of wildlife and sea-level rise, which will ripple all across the globe.

Stephen Dupont – Nature’s Lungs

Stephen Dupont is an acclaimed Australian photographer and artist whose work has earned him photography’s most prestigious prizes, including the 2007 W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography for his work in Afghanistan, and the 2010 Gardner Fellowship for his work in Papua New Guinea. His work has been exhibited at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, the International Center of Photography, the New York Public Library, the National Museum of the Marine Corp, The Australian War Memorial, among other venues.

Photo: Stephen Dupont.

Nature’s Lungs, 2018 (From the series “Are We Dead Yet?”)

Are We Dead Yet? Is an ongoing series of works centered around our planet’s climate crisis focused on recent disasters and events in my own country Australia. From one of the worst drought’s in living memory, to the recent catastrophic black summer bush fires and floods to the destruction of native forests. Inspired by his young daughter Ava – a climate activist – our discussions about environmental issues inevitably end up at the big question: is it possible to save the planet, or have we pushed Mother Nature to the brink of extinction?

I want my photographs to reflect both the consequences of our current path as well as signal the urgency to find new ones, while motivating viewers to question their roles and responsibilities in this real-time catastrophe. I’m looking at this as an artistic kind of canvas – a way to view the tragedies and the trauma of the earth, but to find some sort of beauty in it as well, in the color palette and patterns of the landscape. I’m highlighting the catastrophe to agitate viewers to gaze deeper – these photographs might be beautiful, but if you look at them really closely, there’s a very deep message in all of them and there’s a real sense of urgency in what I’ve captured.

Matt Bagley – Bubble Lion

Matt Bagley is a son, brother, father and uncle amongst other things. He grew up in the small coastal fishing town of San Remo, a unique location where the mainland connects to Phillip Island down the south-east coast of Australia.

Photo: Matt Bagley.

Bubble Lion, Port Lincoln, SA, Australia.

When I look into your deep dark eyes, I see an ocean full of colour.

A trail of bubbles is your connection to the world above. We are all here to coexist, and though you are fearful, you accept my presence. I feel your curiosity, though I could never truly understand you.

You are unconventionally beautiful. With fur as smooth as silk and your whiskers coarse like wire, you fold your ears back as you gaze at your reflection in my camera port. This may be the first time you have seen yourself, yet I know you don’t appreciate your beauty.

I write this for you, on behalf of you. The endangered. Only 6500 est. of you remain in this world.

Take a moment and look into my eyes. Get closer. I am the one without a voice. My plea is silent but must it be heard; you hold the future of my existence in your hands. Don’t forget about me.

The silence in the water becomes loud, and the air in my lungs becomes heavy. It pulls me back to the surface as I remember we are from different worlds.

I have felt a deep connection with the ocean for as long as I can remember. Saltwater is in my blood, and when submerged I find peace and wonder. With a camera in hand I follow lightpaths, diving down into cold free flowing waters. A handheld torch accompanies my single-breath dives, illuminating instances that captivate and connect. Whether it be the morning light bouncing off the oceans surface or the darkness that comes before the moon. There is so much beauty that it’s hard to look past, I’m drawn to them. Not only to capture but to experience them.

Tamara Dean – Ascension

Tamara Dean is a critically acclaimed photo media artist. Her practice explores our connection to nature and fragility of the environment. Her work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia; Parliament House Art Collection; Art Gallery of South Australia; Mordant Family Collection; Artbank; Balnaves Collection; and Francis J. Greenburger Collection, New York. Tamara Dean is represented by Michael Reid – Sydney + Berlin.

Photo: Tamara Dean.

Palace of Dreams’ 2022

“…in the gardens of memory, in the palace of dreams, that is where you and I shall meet” – (The Mad Hatter) Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass, 1871

Like Alice through the looking glass, the world is turned on its head.  Ordinary objects defy gravity, the compass is both physically and figuratively out of whack.

Each night I watch the news, taking in images of daily disasters happening across the planet. My mind is filled with moments and snapshots, personal belongings washing away in floods, homes broken, humans in dire need. We are often reminded that we are living on the precipice of a tipping point. A point of no return.

Then images from my garden float through my mind, my hands in the earth, flowers that disappear and reappear each year. The certainty of change and of cycles.

Morganna Magee – Meeting Place

Morganna Magee is a based in Melbourne, Australia, living and working on the land of the Woi Wurrung Bunurong and Boon Wurrung people, the foothills of the Dandenong ranges. Her work has been awarded and exhibited both nationally and internationally recognised by institutions such as The National Portrait gallery Australia and Miami Art week. She is a founding member of Lumina Collective an Australian collective of award-winning women and non-binary photographic artists breaking ground in visual storytelling and dissemination.

Photo: Morganna Magee.

From the series “Extraordinary Experiences

Definition of haunting: having qualities (such as sadness or beauty) that linger in the memory : not easily forgotten

Extraordinary experiences ( 2020- ongoing) uses photography as a conduit for emotional interpretation of reality during a time of turmoil.

Created in the streets near where I live, on the traditional lands of the Woi Wurrung, Bunurong and Boon Wurrung people, the images are made on places of traditional significance that are now open bushland.

The resulting images come from an intuitive response to my surroundings, the images interplay with photography’s ability to make eternal what is fleeting. Through in camera and in scanner manipulations these images exist through intervention, sometimes by the artist, others by the unseen atmosphere that surrounds what is photographed.

There are a set of psychological phenomena that can happen to the bereaved, loosely named Extraordinary Experiences. One of them is a visual apparition of or “seeing” the loved one. This work allows me to make tangible those feelings, the apparitions of emotions, memories, and dreams embed grief into the photographs. These images explore the idea of being haunted by the past, of reckoning with history, and the eternity of the natural world.

Aletheia Casey – To Dance with Shadows: Flight

Aletheia Casey is a photographic artist based between Sydney and London. During the last 12 years Aletheia has published and worked with The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Financial Times Magazine, BBC London and BBC World, Australian Associated Press, BBC Wales, SBS Television, and various international publications.

Photo: Aletheia Casey.

Part of the series To Dance with Shadows. This work explores the silent and fragile places of the post-pandemic landscape. The images physically depict the aftermath of disconnection and isolation.

Click here to visit the full Vital Impacts gallery.

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