Earth Day 2019: Photographers share the stories behind their climate change shots

Two photographers tell The Independent about capturing climate change

Liam James
Monday 22 April 2019 17:37
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Devastating wildfires and chronic drought are commonly seen to be terrifying signs of the impending doom of planet Earth and all life on it; they do, however, make for some incredible pictures.

Getty photographers Sean Gallup and Justin Sullivan spend their lives capturing such climate disasters and have shared the stories behind their finest pictures with The Independent for Earth Day 2019.

Sullivan has spent many a perilous shift getting familiar with his specialist subject: fire. He has been on the job at most of the big US wildfires in recent years and 2018 presented him with plenty of material as numerous wildfires flared across vast areas of California.

He talks of getting up close alongside the firefighters, so close that “the heat from the fire was so intense that the firefighter could only stand near the building for 10-15 seconds before having to move away.”

Sean Gallup is based in Europe and has worked as a staff photographer at Getty for over 15 years.

What is made immediately obvious from his tales is that this photojournalist’s job does not begin and end with the 125th of a second that he spends taking a shot. He will cover the same story year after year and come to learn a great deal about his subjects.

“The farmers in the region are really despairing. In the years before many faced floods, in 2018 it was scorching heat,” Gallup says when describing a picture of a sunflower field in Germany that was ravaged by drought in 2018.

He goes on: “with the price of milk so low many are fearing for their economic survival if weather cycles like this continue.”

Read the rest of the photographer’s comments and see their pictures in the gallery above.

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