Large Format Photos Capture Humanity’s Destruction of Earth

Edward Burtynsky photos
A river of rust in Canada, right, an oil spill in Nigeria, left.

Photographer Edward Burtynsky has spent his career capturing stunning large format photographs that — despite their beauty — actually show the damage that’s being done to the planet.

His incredible photographs are currently on exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London where he is making use of large format by displaying enormous prints of his arresting work.

Cadiz, Spain, 2013.
Tailings Pond, South Africa, 2018.
Uralkali Potash Mine, Berezniki, Russia, 2017.

Burtynsky seeks out society’s waste that companies and authorities try to conceal from view. He looks at where batteries end up, what farmers do to feed the population, and what happens when crude oil finds its way into forests and waterways.

“The problem is, we can’t contain our consumption as we go out further and further into unspoiled nature to get things, what’s happening is that there is a huge biodiversity loss,” Burtynsky tells CNN.

“As much as climate change is a threat to the future of life on the planet so is the reduction of biodiversity.”

Part of a diptych, this image was taken in Ontario, Canada, 1996.
Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island, 2017.

One of Burtynsky’s most remarkable pieces in the exhibit is a diptych showing a “river of rust” flowing through Ontario, Canada.

“This is iron oxide, literally rivers of rust,” he explains. “What they’re doing is, they’re pouring tailings which is once they’ve removed the nickel, the copper, and all the precious metals you have the remaining rock that’s been ground down and they have to pour it out.”

Burtsynky tells CNN that he attempts to “bear witness to the outer edges of our supply chain” where raw materials for society comes from and looks for where nature is most abused.

Edward Burtynsky.

Some of the photos at the Saatchi gallery have been printed mural size, such as a photo of an artisan sapphire mine in Madagascar in which the viewer can become immersed in the gigantic large format image.

Burtsynky hopes that his photographs get people thinking about the collective impact everyone has on the planet.

“The world is a much bigger place and we need to be aware of what’s happening out there because that’s going to come back and bite us,” he adds.

Burtynsky’s work is on at the Saatchi Gallery and will run at Flowers Gallery until May 11.

Image credits: Photographs by Edward Burtynsky.