Photographers, Politics and the Environment

Esther BeatonConservation, Tasmania3 Comments


One of the most significant environmental events in Australia occurred in 1983. And I was there. It was January, I was on my honeymoon with my French photographer husband, Jean-Paul Ferrero and I was on a mission to try my hand at my first ever photojournalism piece. We cruised down Tasmania’s Gordon River and camped in old fishermen’s huts. I photographed and interviewed protestors as well as the beauty of the fog-shrouded landscape.

Back on the mainland, I nervously wrote up a story and submitted it to Natural History Magazine. I completely expected them to refuse it. I was dazzled beyond belief when they not only accepted it, without subediting, but even made one of my shots the cover photo. It was also a lucky coup that it came out just about the same time as the High Court’s┬áruling which halted the damming of the magnificent Gordon River and turned the governments of the day upside down.
Today, July 1st, is the 25th anniversary of that ruling. I would like to honour that date by publishing the cover of that magazine issue. I realize now that the role of a photographer can be an effective one, even when it might not seem so at the time. Thanks to all the ordinary people involved, whether in-your-face protestors or behind-the-scenes supporters, that pristine environment of huon pines, king billy pines and cold, soaking rainforests is today a World Heritage Area and a testament to the power of the people. Right on photographers!

3 Comments on “Photographers, Politics and the Environment”

  1. Bill

    Great shot Esther, wish I had been there too. Can’t remember at the moment when you went flying with me at Forests, must look it up in my diaries and see if I have some aerial shots of those trips. Have some here..http://www.flickr.com/photos/spelio/221819017/
    We cruised up the Gordon on a lovely grey day in 2005. About to head off to the Kimberleys on Monday for 3 months! Keep in touch..Bill

  2. Esther Beaton

    Bill, you were a master at aerial photography and I have much to thank you for. Besides lending me the Hasselblad with the intervalometer, you also let me use your plane! Good luck in the Kimberleys and don’t get lost in that rugged terrain.

  3. Anonymous

    A very busy “in your face” photo, but I guess that’s the intent of the protesters. We currently have an environmental tug o’ war going on in the USA, because of the high price of gasoline. I bet you’re also feeling it in Australia. Drill for more oil – and look out at derricks on our beaches – or don’t drill? In the long run we will need alternative energy, since oil will run out in some future century. Mark, USA

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