Updated: Jun 5
A single image can arouse simultaneous sensations encouraging a domino effect through the exchange of ideas and the involvement of many stakeholders capable to take action and make the change. The Prix de Photographie Environnementale - Environmental Photography Award by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation - PA2F, at its 3rd edition, aims at raising environmental awareness by offering the unique chance to plunge passersby at Larvotto Promenade into the contemplation of natural beauty or involving them in some of the most serious environmental problems. The relationship between human beings and the wildlife is still too far from being peaceful. This makes even more necessary the action of communities and policy makers to make this coexistence more sustainable. And here the photographic expression can hit the edge.
On the 1st June 2023, Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of PA2F, unveiled the open-air exposition in the presence of distinguished guests and the international media, including MONACŒCOART®. « This initiative, born three years ago in the midst of a pandemic crisis, has immediately been a great success, collecting about 6,000 photos worldwide taken by 2,150 photographers, both amateurs and professionals, followed by further 8,000 photos in the 2022 edition. This year, we exceeded the limit of 10,000 visuals by 2,300 international photographers. That is a great achievement! ».
In this edition, sustainability was kept in mind also in choosing an innovative 100% recyclable material to reproduce the photos in the high definition panels. Notably, the GreenBond is made of 100% aluminum, then totally plastic free.
The awarding ceremony was held in the presence of a delegation of the Technical Jury made of Sergio Pitamitz, President of the Jury, National Geographic Expeditions wildlife and conservation photographer, Esther Horvath, National Geographic photographer, and for Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research focused on climate research in polar regions, Britta Jaschinski, photojournalist specialised in crimes against nature, and Alexa Keefe, photo editor in chief at National Geographic. Their role was to grasp every detail in each photo to evaluate their intrinsic value.
Jasper Doest, talented and award-winning photographer from the Netherlands, was awarded the 2023 Prize as well as the podium of the corresponding category "Humanity versus Nature". His capture, named Fight to the Death, was taken in 2021 at the Lopé National Park in Gabon and it includes an intense and dramatic storytelling. An African elephant, emblem of the local big fauna, reacts strongly to Humans after been fatally hit by a train which carried manganese, the precious mineral that represents the main economic resource of the Country (11% of exports). The power of the animal’s gesture expresses all the force of Nature in resisting external attacks. An excellent result for the emerging photographer who, graduated in ecology, is being contributing to the National Geographic magazine.
Jasper Doest highlighted: « I do believe that it is a powerful catalyst for positive change. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to participate to this photo contest. The double recognition reinforces my belief that we can and will make a difference if we work together. I am extremely excited by the idea of a collective commitment to a more harmonious coexistence among living beings ». Hopefully, the local government will be persuaded to take precautions in favour of the survival of elephants and other animals. « I am convinced that this photograph also has the power to inspire change. I would like to invite all stakeholders to come together and have a serious discussion about how we can collectively put an end to the continuous killing of endangered species along this rail line. Otherwise, other animals will suffer the same fate as the elephant I photographed », the winning photographer added. Besides the prize money, Jasper will soon have the chance to visit the SEK International University research base in the Amazon Rainforest.
« Photography is a powerful tool to give voice to wildlife and biodiversity that are threatened. Through the Environmental Photography Award, photographers are given the opportunity to share their images and their conservation messages to promote nature preservation », Sergio Pitamitz, President of the Environmental Photography Award Technical Jury.
The Prix des Lycéens 2023 - 2023 High School Award, in partnership with the Direction de l’Éducation Nationale, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, went to David Feuerhelm, a British photographer fully committed to the natural cause. His photo work Baby it’s Cold Out There! taken in Iceland in 2019 won the hearts of the students of Monaco for its ability to capture the wonder of the wild nature of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier from the depth of the cave. Fourth largest ice cap in the island, the ice pack creates ephemeral caves, giving life to made-by-nature 'surrealist' landscapes.
Airborne (2022) by Marcus Westberg was awarded the first prize in the Category "Change Makers: Reason for Hope". The photograph, taken in Malawi, shows a transfer of elephants from Liwonde National Park to Kasungu National Park in Malawi under the supervision of conservation experts. This unconventional shocking method is quite common to move big fauna from one area to another to ensure their fair distribution. Despite appearances, all operations are carried out with the greatest care and respect for animals.
My Kingdom (2022) by Simon Biddie was awarded the first prize in the Category "Ocean Worlds". The photograph, taken in Los Islotes, Parc National d'Espiritu Santo (Mexico), California sea lions enjoy protected status at Espiritu Santo National Park in Mexico. The region is a closed area for fishing, which ensures an environment rich enough in food, and the limitation of human activity benefits the stability of their population. However, only one threat remains: climate change.
Falling Leaves are Blue (2018) by Kallol Mukherjee was awarded the first prize in the Category "Into the forest". The photograph, taken in the Himalaya (India) depicted a snowstorm in the Himalayas at an altitude of 4,267 m as a flock of Grandala birds invaded the landscape, offering a superb view of their synchronised flight.
Tiny Umbrella (2018) by Franco Banfi was awarded the first prize in the Category "Polar Wonders". The photograph, taken in Tasiilaq, East Greenland, the image represents a tiny benthic hydrojellyfish whose bell measures less than a centimetre. It is a rare gelatinous organism that lives in deep or polar waters.
PA2F Environmental Photography Award exhibition can be visited until the end of July 2023 or virtually through The Monaco Metaverse, the first VR twin model of the Principality, designed by DWorld. Exploring it definitely presents a cultural enrichment which boosts the environmental knowledge of our Planet Earth that must be treated with more respect. ***
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing