A PERSONAL NOTE FROM COLIN
My photographic career is owed to the people, the landscapes and the animals that I have knelt before. I am witness, I am empathy and I am compassion. I honor all of those with whom I have shared time with in this beautiful world. I am who and what I am because of you. One word exemplifies each and every breath that I take on this earth, and that word is gratitude. I have been blessed with many awards and accolades, Tiffany Crystal Eagles, Emmy nods and a Knighthood. At the heart of my journey is the evolution of soul, transcendence. I'm simply in pursuit of living an authentic life. One filled with the joy of love, music, photographs and the written word. The effortless search for the divine in all that we do.
As witness, my belief is that I represent, as an emissary of sorts, the emotional energy that I have created with my photographs. The give back, the fulfillment of the infinite loop is to share how you can become involved. How you can take action. How you can make a difference. Explore, donate your time, your energy, and be a part of a growing movement where we all play a part. Your voice is needed...
BAHAMAS + GREEN VALLEY
At low tide peak during full moon, my aerials from the reefs of the Bahamas turned the visage below into a desert landscape, almost glacial in its form. Liquid, moving, similar in color and form to the copper mine in Green Valley. The extraction process, the tailing ponds created, the environment in slow death, the coral in its slow death, engulfed by the fine silt traveling across the Atlantic settling onto and eventually killing the reef. As the desert of Sahara expands, so too does Green Valley. Our Environment, Our World, caught in an external world of expansion and contraction.
ARCTIC CIRCLE POLAR BEARS + ALBERTA TAR SANDS
The Polar Bears have crossed the threshold, and they are now on the endangered species list. On an even deeper level, the scientists that I spoke with shared that half the bears in my photographs would be gone by 2020. They know this because the female Polar Bear will not reproduce if her own life is in peril. Their further predictions are that the entire Hudson Bay Polar Bear population will be extinct by 2040 and that by 2060 the Arctic Ocean will have no ice left. In Alberta, two Province’s west, the feast of oil is in full bloom, on a scale so massive it's near impossible to fathom. Billion gallon tailing ponds dot the vast horizon. I see the Polar Bears being swallowed by our climate and the newfound oil of the tundra that lies beneath their paws. It seems everything sacred is for sale, and the earth, the forest and the tundra bears are simple resources to be consumed and regurgitated, and the end result is oil.
LAKE MAGADI + SALTON SEA
Lakes and seas once teaming, now sleep dormant of life. Gone are the days of embracing the great migrations. Poisoned water now pervades, as algae strips the oxygen from the water. These two bodies of water used to be great desert sanctuaries, now they exist in symbiotic harmony as the new toxic oasis. The five hundred thousand flamingoes that used to winter here at Lake Magadi, have now been replaced by soda ash manufacturing. The once vibrant Salton Sea, is now a repository, a catch basin for a plethora of farm fertilizer run off and an ill-placed abattoir in Mexico. I comb through the air and I sift through the sand looking for my images. Abandoned to the solitude, as man once again triumphs over our ecosystem. Redemption, may I not find these visuals... May I be unemployed by the environment.
ANTARCTICA + SOUTH SUDAN
A six degree temperature increase in Antarctica, translates to 25% less rainfall in a place like the Sahel region in Africa. Drought can so easily lead to famine, and people and animals have all become that much more vulnerable. Desertification in the Sahel belt alone represents close to a billion acres. 87% of all worldwide glaciers have calved off, thinned and retreated. In 2002, 1,250 square miles of the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated. The shelf was more than 700 feet thick. In these fragile ecosystems it takes so little to tip the scales into collapse and free fall. This is something most every human being has contributed to, myself included. And yes, I accept my own blame. The future is ours to create.
ENERGY + OIL
I have stolen my way onto this site, and I find myself staring out into our future. In this abandoned oil refinery, I drift alone under the 108 degree heat. The black rush of oil, a Pacific Ocean full of it has come and gone, leaving a well cleaned carcass in its wake. The camel in me manifests, sucking water from one of my humps, my ghost appendage. I feel no thirst or hunger as my soul guides the process. I reside under the eclipse. I am so well accustomed to the loss of self, that photography becomes a complete and utter meditative process. My heart no longer beats and I no longer breathe. I am lost to myself, totally immersed and this is the space that I inhabit. Endorphins flow. That same sun, is a few hundred miles away, building an entirely different future. I think of former President Reagan tearing President Carter’s solar panels off the roof of the White House when he first took office. I wonder where we would be now.
RECYCLE BANGLADESH + BERKELEY
Men labor here, as if they've come from the center of the earth. Born up from it, out of it, into a slow grind even poverty doesn't understand. Dismantlers, breakers of the ships abandoned by the sea. Matadors of the metallic afterworld, they simply consume its flesh, melting it, bending it, tearing at its carcass until the ship surrenders its soul to the men and their voracious will. The recycling process provides 80% of the countries raw steel, earning the men a dollar per day for their sacrifice. Eight thousand miles away, we too recycle, getting paid our own version of pennies. The difference is, 1 in 4 of us aren’t going to die from cancer because of the toxic chemicals we’ve been exposed to, and 50 people aren’t going to be killed in accidents this year recycling.
MELTING ICE PERU + ICELAND
I joined the pilgrim’s, an infidel, a man who had no journey except up, up into the Andean sky. I am here to bear witness once again, to breathe from the eternal soul. As a black silhouette, I move against the sun, my light buried deep within. Ahead is the first of the seven crosses. A pilgrim is beneath, kneeling into the cobalt sky, hands collapsed, praying into the infinite, his God, his mountain, his melting glacial ice. The body, the sacrament are one, he is free. Six thousand miles away I hang from another sky, suspended in time. Man has not broken the land here, rather it has shaped him. And woman, she is spirit, the very water that has given shape to the surface. Her constant falling, flowing, the way her fingers have spread the colors, mixing ancient souls and myth. And from this subtle grace, I take to the air to witness, in God's great sky her painting below me spreading out. Canyons of water, mouths of rivers freeze and then thaw as the silver of winter sets upon, then releases a gentle cycle as the color bleeds upon the land. This is her beauty, her migration of water, as it too is slowly swallowed by the sea.
AGENT ORANGE + ALUMINUM
Agents of Orange converged upon my sorrowful lens. I entered their world. I entered their collective conscious of pain, to join them in their silence, to be their silent witness. Lives suspended in amber, locked in a room that only darkness sees. My camera, it leads me into this light, their light and I begin my conversations with the unimaginable. I am consumed. Closing the doors, I give them back to their darkness, their eternal sleep. And then upstairs, to those who were born with breath. The children, eyes of innocence, looked straight through my lens and into my soul. They held no judgment. One had empty eye sockets, another without ears, and in some, a consciousness that could not be reached. Another orange madness of aluminum tailing ponds and manufacturing sits below me. Mercury and other toxins were leeched undetected into the ocean, effectively killing the fin fish and shrimping industry, ending three generations of fisher folks lives.
LAND MINES + MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL
To shoulder the pain in this world. To absorb it into my life, another landscape lost to immeasurable suffering; where every other person in this country was killed during the genocide, and now today, every other person has been affected by land mines and their legacy. On its western border alone, over one million land mines were laid in what is known as the K-5 belt between 1978 and 1981. Scattered through out the countryside are four million mines and other unexploded ordinance. The loss of land due to mines is listed as tens of thousands of square kilometers. Peasants, unable to find work, destitute, step into what are still The Killing Fields. Willing to trade a limb or a life for less than a dollar per day. Now, nine thousand miles away, I hang from the sky above the battlefield. Below me is Crimea; I draw the destruction up into my lens, mixing with my eye until my soul releases the shutter. Coal, consumed to the deep muscle of the land is now being stripped to the bone. Nothing left, as the surgeon’s of this black industry apply their explosives, laying it onto the flesh, and devouring the arteries of coal. It is harvested here from these sorrowful hills of Appalachia as if it were a crop. As if life could once again come from this.
EASTER ISLAND + ELEPHANTS
Worldwide, 52% of all wildlife on our planet has disappeared since 1970. Within the span of a century, the Rapa Nui population fell from a high of more than 10,000 to only 120 people. It took only 6 to 8 centuries to completely denude the island of 16 million palm trees. Deforestation then caused most of the island’s topsoil to be washed out to the sea, which polluted their fishing grounds. Those lasting effects and the overuse of natural resources, turned a once flourishing society of people into a dwindling tribe of cannibals. Ten thousand miles away, yes, but in the blink of an eye, the collapse of Easter Island can be accelerated forward into now. The end of eden for Africa has been prophesied for decades, and many feel that it too has been driven into free-fall. I found the “Lords of Africa”, ancient infants caught between two worlds, one that wants them and one that does not. Under clouds of guilt they whisper into the thunder, and I am here to photograph their voice. Drought, it has come to Tsavo, the worst since 1850 and the water, the commodity that it is, is now precious and fought over. Man triumphs here, bringing down the Lords because they drink too much water, leaving less and less for his goats and cattle who do not belong here in the first place. The men, the caretakers of the afterlife, decide who lives and who dies, as ancient history repeats itself. Easter Island is our mirror.
OIL ALLEY + OKLAHOMA
We drove out into the oil fields, that bitter interpreter and I. To find the men who collected oil from the earth with their hands. Romania’s prurient raven gold. Once they dug a hole into ground, they’d lower a pipe down into the watery black mess, and then they’d drag it up, pulling up one blackened cup of viscous after another. Many, long since unemployed by the local refinery became scavengers. Oil, the smell, the texture was their blood. They simply carried on, tapping new veins into the earth. Punching, digging holes, pulling forth the commodity. Ultimately it was all they had. There was no other work. So they dug holes in oil alley and then sold their precious yield back to the oil refinery they used to work for. They all worked seven days a week, and most remained overnight throughout winter in nothing more than a lean-to, freezing, protecting their precious hole. Hummingbirds them all, afraid to leave their nectar. Nectar we created, six thousand miles away, in what is commonly known as the most toxic town in all of America, a place where the funeral director is the only one left with a job. I think of the lives, the men, the women, the little ones all crossing his threshold with their lead filled livers. Man opened the earth here, looking for the lead, which would make the bullets for our two greatest of World Wars. From our wave of mutilation, our wave of victory, came a clean up that was never to be. A trillion tons of semi-precious ore and contaminated rubble were left upon the surface, visually resembling such great dunes of sand. The lead as dust became airborne and rained into everything: corn, cattle, chicken, lamb, anything with a pair of lungs. Along with our allies, we took our lead mountains, and bombed the Romanian oil fields into oblivion, effectively capping the fuel of Hitler’s war machine. Simultaneously ruining their ecosystem and ours.
GLACIAL VALLEY + GRIZZLY BEARS
It was imperative to find something perfect and raw, something untouched by the hands of humanity. A place of such serenity and divine intervention, that it would be impossible to deny that utter perfection did not exist here on earth. The grizzly bears, in all their beauty, were there feasting on the last of Autumn’s salmon. They dove out from the shores of the Kirkuit as brilliant acrobats into their shared river of life. All of them feeding a hunger that time alone and consequence has brought. As it has brought me. I am simply there, distilling, driving hope back into me, planting a seed that a new eden was and is possible. Mixed into this cycle, is the drive to co-exist. Winter begins to form, hibernation is imminent, and in its slumber rises the Arctic chill. As volcanic ash settles onto the valley floor it melts into the snow which eventually turns to ice until the glacial floor resembles more of a desert landscape. It’s cyclical evolution of time, as it slowly swallows the seasons of life.