The global award in photography and sustainability

Reza Deghati

Once upon a time, there was a man sitting on the branch of a tree intently sawing at the point closest to the trunk. An old sage – who happened to be observing the scene – quickly warned the man of the imminent danger of falling. Full of arrogance, the man replied, “I know this tree and all its many branches, and I can assure you that there is absolutely no danger”. Not many seconds later the branch broke, and the man fell to the ground, badly hurt in the way the old sage had predicted.

I remember those childhood stories that influenced my philosophy of life and my relationship to nature, which is the guarantor of our modern lives.

I also think back to the words of the celebrated 9th century doctor, Avicenna, who spoke of the great importance of maintaining the perfect balance between the elements: water, wind, earth and fire. But throughout the centuries, first due to ignorance then thoughtlessness, mankind has exploited to depletion natural resources for his own means.

In the name of technology and comfort, and because of an enormous waste, the universal balance is slowly fracturing. Seen from space, the continents look like lonely, shipwrecked boats amidst the vast expanse of ocean. All seems harmonious, but the more and more sick soil agonises along with more and more polluted water. The loss of harmony of this natural balance and the contamination of water as the source of life, poses a real threat to the continued survival of mankind on a planet that we continue to pillage.

Our relatively new awareness still has the power to halt the self-destruction of our environment
and, on a global level, of our entire world. Art and photography, expressions of a universal language, are able to raise awareness about the world that surrounds us. This is what I try to do through my images – highlighting the interdependence between humanity and his environment, in particular water. In order to avoid the descent of our planet and universe into a self-administered chaos, it is our duty to inform others with the knowledge of the smallest individual behaviours that may save the four elements of the cosmos – water, wind, earth, and fire – to put it simply, life itself. Thus, like the wise saying, “something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world”.

Reza Deghati