The Image as an Instrument of Change

Photographer and #EyeOnClimate participant, Mark Iandolo, explains the special role of photographers in the fight agains

The Pursuit of Wonder

The Earth is a virtuoso artist—it’s painted tranquil seascapes, sculpted cloud-kissing mountains, and composed echoing symphonies filled with all the sounds of nature. But the Earth is not alone in its capacity for creation. Humans construct skyscraping cities, design architectural icons, and imbue the world with authentic and artistic compositions.

When I gaze upon these masterpieces, I am filled with honest, ineffable wonder. And as Pixar storyteller Andrew Stanton once said, “There’s no greater gift than the ability of someone or something to give you that feeling—to hold you still just for a brief moment in your day and have you surrender to wonder.”

The Earth’s artwork and mankind’s creations give me the affirmation of being alive. They reach me almost on a cellular level. “And when an artist does that to another artist, it’s like you’re compelled to pass it on,” Stanton said. “It’s like a dormant command that suddenly is activated in you.”

So to pass the wonder on, I endeavor to capture scenes in nature or achievements of mankind in powerful images to then share with as many people as I can. I do this because I want them to feel that same wide-eyed wonder that I felt.

The Battle Against Climate Change

A year ago, I stood at the precipice of Kilt Rock in Scotland. There I was, standing atop a cliff gazing at a waterfall as it cascaded hundreds of feet down into the sea. In that moment, I was overcome with emotion and I felt filled with gratitude for the chance to see such natural beauty. But while basking in incandescence, I was struck with a second, more harrowing feeling—the sobering truth that future generations might not get the chance to see what I was seeing and feel this complex mix of gratitude, awe, and wonder. Because places like this are under siege from climate change.

Climate change threatens the Earth’s natural canvas. Higher temperatures will turn tranquil seascapes into category 5 hurricanes. They will melt the glaciers that carved mountains and they will cause disasters that will drown out nature’s great symphony. But climate change doesn’t just threaten the Earth’s natural creation’s; it threatens mankind’s creations too. A rise in sea levels will flood coastal cities. Extreme weather patterns will destroy iconic structures not designed to withstand them. All that we imbued the world with will be shattered.

Of course, the devastating truth is that climate change is human-induced. We filled the world with wonderful achievements, and now we are destroying them with our negligence. And when our infrastructure falls, we too will fall.

Our home stands on a precipice of potential destruction and we as a species are right there with it. We can work to save it, or we can continue provoking climate change and be swept off the edge in the destruction that follows. To quote J.R.R. Tolkien, “we’ve come to it at last, the great battle of our time.”

In this battle, I will use photography as my sword.

The Image as an Instrument of Change

Despite increasing mobilization, human beings tend to be limited to their own context: we do what is familiar and we live in our familiar neighborhoods.