Famed photographer Edward Burtynsky talks about his ‘Water’ photo series
He’s known for his large-format photos of industrial landscapes, with images that aim to display the relationships between man and nature. Through his work, award-winning Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky strove to show how the former has changed the latter.
In his series Water, Burtynsky shows one of the world’s most valuable natural resources in its various forms, as well as the ways human use it. His series looks at the way people have sought to control and manage water in many ways, such as the building of dams.
For 5 years, Burtynsky has amassed a photo book collection focused on water, and he has also produced a film, Watermark, related to the project.
From June 29 until July 5, Burtynsky’s images will be on display at the Masterpiece London in the Royal Bank of Canada’s lounge.
In his interview with Forbes, Burtynsky talks about how the project came about. For Water, he’s traveled to 10 countries and about 15 to 20 locations, with some locations shot from a helicopter or drone. But it’s not just bodies of water – like the Yangtze River in China – that he’s interested in; he’s also shot images of the Kumbh Mela Festival, a deeply symbolic religious festival in India.
As he worked on the project, Burtynsky says he’s been more focused on getting the technical aspects of the shoot right. But he admits that there would be times when he would be struck by contemplative moments.
“Once in awhile I stand in awe of this place because I am witnessing some of the most extraordinary projects to take place by human beings,” he says.
He adds that the project has given him a deeper respect towards the valuable resource. Burtynsky says he realized that when humans control, redirect, or manage water away from its natural cycle, there would always be a winner and a loser.
“Whoever is the one it’s directed towards is the winner, and whoever loses that water is the loser. So whether it’s an ecosystem downstream or whether it’s the water on the edge to reproduce, or whether it’s another village downstream that’s not getting their water because somebody upstream has taken too much I find that water is one of the most contentious resources on the planet, and those upstream have control, and those downstream are beholden to those upstream,” he says.
Read more of Burtynsky’s interview with Forbes here.