How 10 Artists See the Environment Around Them

We asked artists to submit images exploring the environment. These are the best ones we found.

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In our latest edition of Format Picks, our monthly contest, we asked artists to submit work inspired by the environment, whether natural or human-made. We saw hundreds of stunning images, from the winners Anastasia Samoylova and Evangelia Aktipi, to many more explorations of how people interact with the spaces around them.

These ten photographers had entries that also stood out for their originality and composition, sharing stories that include unique landscapes in Iceland, volcanoes in Italy, pollution on ocean shores, and the declining tourism industry in Turkey.

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Entry is now open for our newest contest, and the theme for June is travel. Head here to find more details on how to submit your work.


Balint Alovits

“My work Acclimate documents how an inhabited area is formed where natural conditions are basically unsuitable for human life. The project aims to represent how mankind adapts to extreme natural conditions by shaping its habitat and how man-made objects redefine raw nature while interacting with it. Through foreign eyes the location of the works can recall alien landscapes where the magnitude of nature is unquestionable. The contrast is so enormous between this power and everyday use objects that the settings seem almost surreal. However, the photographs of Acclimate unfold a peaceful coexistence between man and nature, thus changing our viewpoint on how adaptable humans are.”


Chris Bentley

“The desert area of the United States had been thinly populated and was one of the last areas of the country to be fully settled. Now, it’s experiencing a large amount of immigration from other areas of the country. As such, it’s representative of how the United States is changing, and it provides clues for what this country might look like in the near future. I view this area of the United States as almost another planet. An arid and generally waterless place that man has somehow managed to colonize through massive government expenditure and technological intervention. A place once found so remote that it was decided that nuclear weapons testing should occur here.”


Phil Nguyen

“This unique area of Iceland is unlike any other on this planet. Shaped and formed by volcanic activity, this area of rhyolite mountains is quite a journey to get to, through rugged terrain and river crossings. It was especially surprising to see a band of horses pass through the treacherous terrain. No matter where you turn your head in the Highlands of Iceland, you see nature’s painting all throughout.”


Jalal Bin Thaneya

“My work brings together the topic of how we as a society build, manage, and extract raw materials. My current two projects focus on the scrap yards and petroleum industry. I am also planning to travel to the northern part of the UAE in order to examine the quarries and mountain breakers.”


Patricia Sofra

“Floating high up in the air, I could see his heart breaking as he looked down at his country. He whispered to me, ‘These tourists can only see the pretty colours and balloons. I can’t help but see the damage…’ I looked down, this time with a different lens. ‘The sky shouldn’t be this quiet, should it?’ This photo was taken in Cappadocia, Turkey of autumn 2017. Cappadocia is best known for its ‘fairy-chimneys’ and the magical sea of hot air balloons that promise to greet you in the sky every morning.

“With the ongoing events of the civilian uprise against the government, violent protests, terror attacks, and headlines of imprisoned journalists, it has devastatingly instilled a great fear in many and caused Turkey’s tourism to plummet. I believe this photo is a perfect representation of the decline in tourism to this once popular holiday destination, and gives perspective on how large the effect has been on many citizens whose livelihoods depend on it. I look at this photo and I remember the smell of the air and the roar of the flame, but most of all I remember the man beside me as he shook his head and wiped the tear from his face in fear of what is to come for his beautiful land.”


Ren Rox

“The majority of my work focuses on the natural world in an attempt to showcase and preserve its beauty in today’s challenging environmental times.”


Maarten Vromans

“This image is part of a series to be called The Human Print. It will be a series about what we, humans, leave behind in our environment. I’ve been working in Iceland for this series.”


Michael A. Estrada

” The series is meant to showcase how the degradation of the environment most profoundly affects marginalized communities, and even more especially women of color (the model is a Vietnamese immigrant). Because we do not exist apart from the environment, any environmental issue must be taken within the context of how it affects people. Women of color are the most affected when it comes to any environmental degradation or injustice of any kind. The focus on plastic and trash suffocating the planet (and indeed us) can further be interpreted as both how we choose to treat our environment and one another, i.e. what and whom we consider to be ‘disposable.’”


Irene Tondelli

“The picture was taken on Mount Etna last winter. For those who haven’t grown up at its feet, an active volcano, might seem a disturbing presence, a sword of Damocles. The Catanesi, despite the eruptions that have repeatedly hit the city, have a visceral relationship with Etna. For them it is simply a Muntagna, “the mountain,” that destroys and recreates. It is not a coincidence that the original symbol of the city is a phoenix.

“I choose this image for the theme environment because I think that what people need to start to respect and protect the planet is to rediscover their roots, their connection with their territory, the love for their own land. Catanesi are a strong methaphor of this concept; Sicily land flows into their veins.”


Luana Rigolli

“In Lanzarote I feel a strange energy that distorts my usual rhythm. I want to believe that the volcanoes destabilize me because they open a direct line that runs from the magma to the surface. I love that subject and geology: the idea of something emerging from the center of the earth to its surface, bringing destruction and fear, but also new forms and strange landscapes, is fascinating.”

See more from past Format Picks editions:
How 10 Artists See The City
How 20 Artists See Themselves
How 20 Artists See the Color Red

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