Earth Day 2018: The Most Compelling Environmental Artists Today

On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was held. Millions of people gathered in an effort to reduce the harmful effects our industrial development was having on the planet. Since that day, an estimated one billion people participate in the event annually. Environmental artists are a small but mighty force in the action.

Earth Day brings people from all walks of life to raise awareness and take action to lessen the damage we are doing to our home. Photography can play a crucial role in these efforts. Here are five environmental artists and CreativeLive instructors who are using their work to promote awareness, evoke change and document the world as it is before it’s too late.

Benjamin Von Wong

Benjamin Von Wong has all but become a household name in the photography industry for his viral images and approach to creating compelling imagery. From zombies and fire shows to a fan short based in the Game of Thrones world, Wong pushes the limits of what is possible. His focus has recently been on creating images and viral campaigns that raise awareness and make a difference. These projects focus on environmental changes and the damage the human race is doing to our home.

A series on climate change illustrates just how unsustainable the current way we live actually is. A conceptual shoot using 10,000 plastic bottles gives us a view into how much plastic pollution we create. As an environmental artist, Wong’s ability to share images that shift people’s perspectives about the world we live in makes him a powerful force in the world of environmental artists.

His most recent project was created by partnering with Dell and Wistron Greentech to illustrate the concept behind Dell’s Closed Loop Recycling Process. By acquiring the amount of electronic waste created by the average citizen of the United States in one lifetime and turning it into imagery, Wong has raised awareness of a little-thought-about-issue with our constant desire for new technology. With a group of volunteers, a pile of garbage and a good supply of creativity, Wong produced a set of images that illustrate just how much we waste.

Art Wolfe

Art Wolfe is a prolific photographer and environmental artist with a career spanning five decades. His work documents and reveals our world to us in ways we have never seen. He has worked for publications such as National Geographic and the Smithsonian Magazine and has also published more than eighty books. He also created the International Conservation Photography Awards which culminated in a traveling exhibition by The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.

Wolfe’s photographic work is as diverse as the world itself. He has worked on projects focusing on wildlife, landscape, and even the peoples of the world. The one unifying factor in all of his work is that it always teaches us something. It gives us a story and a look into the world we live in from a unique perspective that few see. Wolfe’s images give us a look into just how much diversity our planet offers.

Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard wears many hats. He is a father of two young children, an explorer, a TED speaker, an author and an environmental artist–to name a few. He is known for bringing us images of some of the wildest coastlines on earth, and more often than not, including surfers or adventurers in those photographs and videos. His work introduces us to the wild places on earth while encouraging us to preserve and respect them.

Perhaps the best example of the theme that permeates Burkard’s work can be found in his children’s book, The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth. The book follows a boy who asks the earth where he can find happiness. The tale, much like Burkard’s own, takes the boy to a realization that there is no quick way to achieve happiness. The earth shows the boy the places it is most proud of, just like Burkard shows us the images that he works hard to create. Both suffer a little to give us the beauty they provide.

This Earth Day, learn how you can capture our planet from these environmental artists. Shop our outdoor photography sale.

Frans Lanting

Frans Lanting, like Art Wolfe, is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, National Geographic photographer and environmental artist. His work focuses on the wildlife that makes our earth unique among the planets of our known universe. The work is arresting and gives us pause to consider the world around us.

His most recent project, LIFE, is a mixed media presentation of the history of life on earth. Lanting’s photographs are paired with lyric and a score by Philip Glass to take us on the journey that our earth has taken to give us this place we call home. The project gives us the knowledge that we are the current life-form in a long line of creatures before us and we have the ability to shape where life goes next.

Ian Shive

Photographer, filmmaker, conservationist, author and innovative businessman. Those are the titles awarded to the multi-faceted Ian Shive. His influential work has been shared with and commissioned by countless clients including National Geographic, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defence Fund and Discovery Channel. He has also used his knowledge as a conservationist to lobby before Congress.

His current project, entitled Midway: Edge of Tomorrow, focuses on the importance of the Midway Atoll and other Pacific islands as a critical habitat for seabirds and turtles. The documentary details not only the history and the current state of life on Midway, but one of the biggest man-made crisis facing our planet right now: plastic pollution. It reveals one direct consequence of the lives we lead and encourages us to consider the future.

What Can We Do?

Photography has the power to change the world, and each of us has the ability to create something that may spark that change. Whether it’s creating images that galvanize the masses or volunteering your time to keep our planet clean, there is something we can each do on an individual level. What are your plans for Earth Day 2018?

This Earth Day, learn how you can capture our planet from these environmental artists. Shop our outdoor photography sale.

Dylan Goldby FOLLOW >

Dylan Goldby is an Aussie photographer based out of Seoul, South Korea. His primary business is family portraiture, but he frequently travels to add to his ongoing Tattoos of Asia project.