Critical Mass: Daniel Beltra

While in China for two weeks and because I may not have access to my blog, I am writing posts in advance. Beginning today and continuing through next week, I will be looking at portfolios that caught my eye in the Critical Mass jurying process. A number of terrific projects submitted to Critical Mass have already been featured on Lenscratch, but these were new to me.

Daniel Beltra was born in Madrid, Spain and now lives in Seattle, Washington. He is passionate about the environment, and for the last two decades has photographed all seven continents, including several Greenpeace expeditions to the Brazilian Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans and the Patagonian ice fields. In 2009. Daniel received the prestigious Prince’s Rainforest Project award, granted by Prince Charles. He has won numerous other awards and his work has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Time , Newsweek, and the New York Times. Daniel was just awarded the Lucie International Photographer of the Year, Deeper Perspective Award. Daniel’s project, Spill, is a stunning look at the result of our demand for oil and the dramatic and disastrous environmental nightmare that can occur.

The fragile state of our environment has been a continuous thread throughout my work. For this series, I spent two months in the Gulf on assignment for Greenpeace photographing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These photographs explore the tenseness of the situation in the Gulf of Mexico as the oil seeps into an already challenged and complex ocean ecosystem. Though tragic, it is a fitting example of the vast scale of transformation our world is under from man-made stresses.

I have found it is often best to work from the air, which more easily allows for the juxtaposition of nature with the destruction wrought by industrial accidents. Aerial photography gives us a wider context to the beauty and destruction happening on the Earth. At the same time, it reveals a sense of scale and a unique perspective that
allows the viewer to understand that the planet and its resources are finite.

It is in nature’s beauty and complexity that I find my inspiration. I hope to create images that spur a greater respect and conservation for the natural world. Hidden within these images is the stark reality about the state of our environment and the legacy that we are leaving behind. I hope to reawaken people to their connection to this world by challenging them to contemplate their relationship with nature, and how their individual actions will contribute to the changing needs of our planet.