James is an passionate film director and photographer that has worked internationally with WWF, BBC and Nat Geo.
Central Africa is in the midst of an elephant poaching crisis. In order to combat the problem, the president of Gabon has recruited a whole new section of the army devoted to fighting back against wildlife crime. Here, Mba Ndong Marius holds seized Ivory tusks in front of a pile of confiscated weapons. Menkebe, Gabon. (James Morgan)
I'm James Morgan, a photographer and film director. I got into photography really as a passport to travel when I was younger - to get access to places and people I wouldn't have come across any other way. I started working in Iceland were I was studying Icelandic on an exchange programme, but I was always drawn to stories involving the ocean, and that was the lead in to the conservation storytelling. I've been lucky to work on a wide range of projects the past few years. From tracking wildlife crime syndicates across Asia and Africa to looking at the battles over resource extraction in West Papua. I recently did an expedition to Siberia where I covered a story on state-sponsored bounty wolf hunting. The wolf numbers have risen so much that it's threatening indigenous reindeer herders. On one recent shoot I got to join the Norwegian coastguard - inspecting fishing vessels in the Arctic.
Wildlife education through photography
Honestly, I think it's very hard. We live in a time where more and more people are disconnecting from the natural world - whether that's moving to cities or spending more time engaged with technology - coupled with the fact that the power of still images has become diluted with so many millions of images being uploaded every day. That said, I still think photography can provide a gateway for bigger impact strategies to reach people. It's still the most effective way to make information campaigns palatable and to encourage people, who might not otherwise be interested, to engage with conservation campaigns.
A lot of my photography work is for WWF and for their campaigns I'm always trying to find a way to put a human face to the figures and policies.
Whilst few young Bajau are now born on boats, the ocean is still very much their playground. And whilst they are getting conflicted messages from their communities, who simultaneously refrain from spitting in the ocean and continue to dynamite its reefs, I still believe they could play a crucial role in the development of western marine conservation practices. Here Enal plays with his pet shark (James Morgan)
I'd love to rekindle people's connection with the natural world - even if just for a moment whilst they are sat at home watching Jago (https://jamesmorgan.co.uk/films/jago-a-life-underwater-teaser/ ) on Netflix - but my aim is really to look at what the change in that connection means. How does it change us as a species as we distance ourselves from the natural world? What will it mean for Homo Sapiens if there are no more elephants, rhinos? How do we react to the ecosystem as it morphs around us? I don't have the answers to these questions but I suspect they're going to become very important.
Jago: A Life Underwater was co-directed by James and tells the story of an 80 year old hunter.
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