Paul Colangelo is a photographer specializing in environmental issues, wildlife and the crossroads of culture and the natural world. He is a National Geographic grantee and an Associate Fellow of iLCP.
In an interview in advance of his departure to Southwest Oregon to photograph the O&C Lands with our conservation partner the Pew Environment Group, Paul related the following:
What conservation issue are you most concerned with right now and why?
What’s on my mind most is the future of the arctic. As ice recedes with rising temperatures, unlocking the gate for ships and platforms, the arctic has essentially become the New World for resource exploration. Complexities due to remoteness and winter ice make drilling in the arctic much riskier than drilling elsewhere, and the sparse population of the arctic means few local voices to speak on behalf of the wildlife and habitat. It is a troubling situation that will have global consequences, and it is just the beginning.
What do you like best about being in the field?
Experiencing these wild, remote places is the inspiration that drives everything I do. It is difficult to put into words the feeling I get when interacting with wildlife. It is affirmation that we are all on the same spectrum – animals living and relying on this earth.
Being out in the wild can be dangerous at times. Can you tell us about such an experience?
I was working on a project that had me camping on a mountain for two months to photograph a herd of Stone’s sheep. A colleague and I had been hiking all day in freezing rain, and by the time we were returning to camp, it was pitch black, still raining, our headlamps were dead and my partner was near hypothermic. As we descended the hill to camp, we could barely make out that the tents were gone and gear was scattered everywhere. Camp was destroyed either by a windstorm or a grizzly, which might still be there. Creeping up to camp, with my unresponsive partner behind me, unable to see or hear over the wind whether a grizzly was there digging into my food, was the worst experience in the field I’ve had.
What value do you see in an organization like iLCP? And what do you get out of being a member of the iLCP Fellowship?
iLCP amplifies the message of a single photographer to the world stage, giving conservation stories a real chance to achieve concrete change. iLCP also provides the rare opportunity to team up with other photographers to shed light on a conservation issue. Complimenting each other’s style and skillset, sharing perspectives and techniques – it’s not a common occurrence in a typically solitary career.
What makes a great Conservation Photographer?
A passion for a place, species or cause that drives him or her to do whatever it takes to protect it. And of course the ability to make images that stir emotions.