A Glasgow-based photographer has walked away with one of the top prizes at the prestigious Earth Photo awards 2020.
Joe Habben won The Climate of Change category winner for his entry, In Moleca, which portrays a visitor arriving in Venice during the ‘Acqua Alta’ (highwater) tide.
The international photography competition and exhibition is held jointly by Forestry England and the Royal Geographical Society, and rewards photographs and videos that document the natural world, its breath-taking beauty, and its ever-growing fragility.
And Joe’s work was among five that were chosen from over 2,600 entries by a judging panel made up of experts from the fields of photography, film, geography and ecology.
Glasgow Live reached out to Joe, a recent Glasgow School of Art graduate, following the news to get his reaction and to speak a little about his work:
What was your reaction to the news that your photo won the Climate Of Change Award at the Earth Photo awards?
After having my degree show cancelled due to COVID-19, graduating this year has been challenging.
Rather than pausing my practice, I went on to put my energy into applying online for opportunities, competitions and awards with my recent project ‘In Moleca’ and made the best out of a bad situation. My work has since been published and featured by BBC News, Vice, The Guardian, CNN, Creative Review, BJP: Portrait of Britain, Pupil Sphere and Intern-mag!
Winning the Earth Photo 2020 ‘Climate of Change’ category is a huge accomplishment for me! To be exhibited among so many talented photographers endeavouring to capture the climate crisis is both a humbling and motivating experience. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this project, so it’s great to receive so much positive feedback for it! I’m invested in continuing this project further, and rather than just documenting the issues, I’m keen on using my work to have a positive impact in order to catalyse change.
Could you tell us a little about the photo itself?
I took this photograph just after the alarmingly high-tide hit Venice on the 12th November, 2019, I arrived a few days later and documented the aftermath and devastating impact that this had on the city. This event is a natural tidal phenomenon, however over recent decades it has become exacerbated by climate change and rising sea-levels. This photograph was taken at the main entrance to Venice at Santa Lucia station where hoards of tourists pile into the city. It was a very dystopian spectacle to see that tourists didn’t abstain from entering the city despite this ongoing natural disaster.
This photograph depicts a tourist hesitantly staring into the flooded path ahead of them. It is unclear where the path ends and the canal begins as boats wash up on the sidewalk.
Venice is sadly so familiarised with these annual circumstances that the inhabitants are forced to adapt, such as installing boardwalks which are located in the most vulnerable areas of the city to enable people to get around without wading through hip-high canal water. This year however, the tide was so high that many of these structures were swept away, with many homes and buildings damaged. Tourist stands sell the single-use fluorescent plastic wellies which you can see the individual wearing in this image with unintentionally ironic slogans on them such as ‘I Love Venice’.
Despite these circumstances, the Venetians are very resilient and it was amazing to see so many people coming together to help one another clean up and restore the city.
We send a range of newsletters each day on the latest news, up to the minute stories and information on coronavirus, as well as the latest foodie news.
It’s a daily email bulletin of the most important stories of the day – delivered straight to your inbox for you to read at your leisure – when you are ready.
To sign up, simply type your email address into the purple box at the top of this story, hit subscribe and we’ll do the rest.
And could you tell us a little about your work in general in Glasgow?
I’m a photographer, filmmaker and artist born in Brighton, based in Glasgow and a recent graduate of the Glasgow School of Art where I studied BA (Hons) Communication Design: Photography.
My recent projects have explored human intervention, global warming, public space and globalisation. I’m interested in documenting the converging and contesting elements in society, particularly the relationship between human and environment.
‘In Moleca’ is the first of many projects which aim to document this relationship with the intention of catalysing harmony between the two. I’m very keen to start working on a new project here in Glasgow or the surrounding Scottish landscape.
Joe is actively looking to work with other like-minded people through commissions and collaborations, so please get in touch if you have any enquiries via his email: email@example.com, through his Instagram HERE or you can see more of his work on his website HERE