Over the last three decades, Yann Arthus-Bertrand has had a very privileged view of the planet.
French aerial photographer and environmental activist Bertrand has observed Earth from an altitude at which the boundaries that divide nations and its people cease to matter.
“When I was 28 and studying lions in Kenya I discovered that aerial photography can communicate so much more than words. It gives you a new perspective on how people live,” said Bertrand (63), a former tourist hot-air balloon operator.
Earth From Above, a photo documentary project to study the state of the planet initiated in 1994 took Bertrand across 150 countries, from where he collected 500,000 photographs. Sixty-four of those images, including those of India, will be exhibited across Marine Drive till January.
“India is a very important country for me. Water crisis appears to be the country’s biggest problem.” The eco-warrior was declared the United Nations Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador this year.
As part of the inaugural ceremony of the Bonjour India Festival, a two-month cultural exchange between the countries, Bertrand also screened his film Home at the NCPA. The film, produced by Luc Besson and shot in 50 countries, talks about Earth wounded by globalisation and consumerism, a planet that humans have only a decade to save and restore.
“Both the exhibition and movie are non-profit projects that I’ve attempted to reach to the public for free. The changes in Earth’s topography aren’t very perceptible but I’ve noticed the alterations over 50 years of work,” Bertrand said.
All the C02 emissions engendered in the making of the film was calculated by the photographer and offset by sums of money that are used to provide rural and poor areas with clean energy. For instance Home is financing a project of the diffusion of anaerobic digesters in the Hassan district here.
Bertrand’s next film, part of the 6 Billion Others project in which he collected 6,000 testimonials on the climate from 65 countries will combine aerial photography with on-ground initiatives.
(Earth from Above is on at Marine Drive till January 8. The film, Home, can be viewed on Youtube)