This years theme for the United Nations International Day of Clean Air for blue skies is “Healthy Air, Healthy Planet”, to help raise global awareness of air pollution and its devastating impact on health. The UN is very clear about the scale of the problem: Air pollution is the largest environmental risk to global public health, and it particularly impacts children, women and the elderly, with increased links to diseases such as dementia, diabetes, COVID-19, cardio-vascular and neurological diseases. Developed countries have greatly improved their air quality in recent years but many developing countries are, still reliant on wood and other solid fuels for cooking and heating. The result is that many vulnerable and marginalized people also suffer from the worst air quality.
I worked with the organisation DelAgua in Rwanda, photographing their cook stove project. I travelled throughout Rwanda with the DelAgua team photographing the distribution days, community health worker visits and how the program is improving the lives of those involved. Over 3 billion people still cook over polluting fires, a major contributor to carbon emissions, deforestation and climate change. Cooking over open fires or inefficient stoves emits one-quarter of global black carbon emissions—the second largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. Household air pollution is the leading environmental cause of premature death and disability, ahead of unsafe water and lack of sanitation, causing more deaths than Malaria, HIV and TB combined. Clean cookstoves are vital to tackle both global challenges and they also provide a plethora of other benefits that impact the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The UN calculates the cost of inaction at $ 2.4 trillion and describes the provision of clean cooking solutions as nothing less than a human rights issue.
The DelAgua cook stove is designed to work for the reality of the lives of the families who use them. It uses wood, but just small pieces of twig and tinder, which rural families can gather without encroaching on forestry. Crucially the design of the stove increases thermal efficiency resulting in quicker cooking speeds and much lower fuel requirements. The stove requires at least 50% less wood than a traditional fire. The stove is durable and saves the equivalent of 14 tons of CO2 emissions over its seven- year life.
Education and ongoing support is central to the work. Every family is visited by a Community Health Worker who explains the dangers of cooking on a traditional fire and household air pollution and the health advantages of cooking on the stove and they also make sure the family know how to use it. Behaviour change is immediate and lasting. 99% of stoves are still in daily use after 2 years.
Travel is one of the industries that has suffered the most during the global pandemic. The consequential ripples of placing restrictions on international movement has been far and wide. I photograph for a stable of corporate clients, editorial magazines, and charitable organisations around the world. I supply photography for various architects, designers, and hotel resorts.
Among those industries reacting to the restrictions on travel is the hotel sector. Hotel designers and architects are reworking existing projects and approaching new ones from a different perspective.
It is essential to understand and adapt to consumers’ changing behaviours for the future. Innovation in uncertain times comes down to flexibility and technology. Organisations need to supply environments that can evolve with the changes of our health concerns and that suit the users’ requirements.
Early indications are that business travel will decline and hotels will have to facilitate a wider range of guest that require different amenities. Hotels will need to appeal to everyone with a safe and secure environment which is welcoming. Lobbies are increasingly being transformed from designer furniture showrooms to the “home from home” spaces that attract overnight guests and local people alike. “Hybrid hotels” already offer hospitality services and facilities such as day spars and in-house cinemas in conjunction with their restaurants adapting to daytime coffee to evening meals for local guests.
Interior spaces will evolve to be designed where social distancing is not directed by Perspex screens and floor markings! Architects will need to consider their choice of materials and its viral surface retention qualities. Biophilic design will also have an important place, to purify the air and to create a sense of wellness.
Hotels will have to do more with less which is where Smart technology will reshape the way in which we use hotels. Contactless hospitality will mean the mobile check in and keyless entry to the rooms, as well as remote ordering at the restaurant. Technology amounts to a touchless interface, which is part of social distancing.
Other benefits offered by new technology are density and opt-in temperature monitoring, self-cleaning surfaces, and high-caliber air filtration systems. Hotels are even collaborating with medical organisations to offer hygiene excellence standards.
Maximising hotel roof designs can provide additional space for terraces or sky lounges, while also satisfying functional needs, such as thermal mass and biodiversity.
The hotel industry has always adapted to behavioural changes and embraced new technology. The pandemic has challenged the industry to react and reinvent itself where the resulting benefits will extend beyond hotel guests to local communities and the wider built environment.
When photographing hotels, there are several factors to consider, from capturing the architecture within its location, to the design of the interior space, and the ambience created by the lighting and design features. As with all architecture, interior, and lifestyle photography it is important to work with the design and marketing team to achieve the required photography.
I was a Winner at the 14th Annual “International Color Awards” with an Honorable mention in the “People” category for my picture photographed for Farm Africa in Tanzania. I also picked up three further nominations in other categories all presented on Saturday 27th March 2021 in the annual online Photoshow.
The live online gala was attended by industry leaders and the photography community from around the globe who logged on to watch the climax of the world's premier event for color photography. This year the competition received 6,109 entries from 73 countries.
I photographed the three traditionally dressed ladies in Babati, the Nou Forest area of Tanzania whilst on assignment for Farm Africa. We were covering an initiative that aimed to introduce more profitable and sustainable enterprises.
INTERNATIONAL COLOR AWARDS is the leading international award honoring excellence in color photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in color photography. www.colorawards.com
My photograph “Waiting to Perform” of a traditional West African dancer in Liberia is featured in Rangefinder Magazine as “Photo of the Day”.
I work with corporate clients, in editorial, and for various charities. One of the charities that I support is International Alert, a peace building organisation that works with people directly affected by conflict to build lasting peace.
I was asked to document their work in Liberia, where they had been working since 1993. Liberia, and the Mano River Region in West Africa more broadly, had experienced civil war for many years, and International Alert supported various programmes to build stability and long-term peace. These included community radio stations, dialogues between local leaders, initiatives to promote greater security and a political voice for women, and festivals to celebrate peaceful co-existence and mutual respect between the different cultures of the region.
The festivals attract an audience from far and wide, with an attendance that grew rapidly from year to year. These festivals brought together people from the region’s many diverse ethnic groups, providing a wonderful opportunity to re-establish harmony between different cultures: diversity in and unity in diversity.
Rangefinder is an award-winning brand for professional photographers that first launched as a magazine in the early 1950s.